County millionaire - ‘I want to buy the BHS chain’

Businessman Yousef Bhailok at the Harris Knowledge Park

Businessman Yousef Bhailok at the Harris Knowledge Park

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A Lancashire millionaire property owner has launched a bold bid to rescue collapsed store chain BHS.

Preston-based Yousuf Bhailok has put a package together in an attempt to take over most of the retailer’s 164 stores. And he may sell some of Preston’s landmark buildings to help fund the project.

Mr Bhailok today confirmed he had big plans for BHS and hopes to save jobs and turn the retailer’s fortunes around.

He has put together a packge for consideration by the collapsed chain’s administrators, Duff and Phelps.

Mr Bhailok said: “We have made a serious expression of interest regarding BHS.

“It’s still early days and administrators are now in control, and we are continuing to have a dialogue with them.”

Mr Bhailok said that although his background was in property, he had been following the fortunes of BHS for 15 years.

He has plans for greater online sales, better use of store space, new products and other measures.

He said he had looked at the model of successful retailers like Primark and H& M and would bring in a team of retail experts to drive the business.

Mr Bhailok has written to business secreary Sajid Javid asking for government support to help secure backing from banks.

And he has formed a new company this week to lead his bid for BHS.

BHS collapsed into administration days ago, putting 11,000 jobs at risk .

It has stores across Lancashire, including in Fishergate, Preston.

It is continuing to trade normally in the hope that a buyer can be found.

BHS was bought last year by a consortium called Retail Acquisitions, headed by Dominic Chappell, for £1 from retail entrepreneur Sir Philip Green, the owner of the Arcadia retail empire.

BHS has debts of more than £1.3 billion, including a pension fund deficit of £571 million.

That proved a major stumbling block in last-ditch rescue talks.

Mr Bhailok said he hoped to take over BHS without the pension liability and would raise funds by the sale of some properties.

He already owns the Harris Park site on Garstang Road, Fulwood, the Harris Institute in Avenham and the former Sharoe Green hospital building on Watling Street Road in Fulwood.