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Al Mana Group May Bring BHS Back to UK High Streets

Failed department store chain BHS could return to Britain’s shopping centers.

Qatari tycoon Al Mana bought BHS’ international and online business in June, and now the Doha-based business is considering a relaunch of the stores in the U.K., The Guardian reported.

The remaining 22 BHS locations shuttered on Sunday, concluding the retailer’s 88-year reign as one of the most popular department store chains in the nation. Sources said Al Mana is searching for a partner that could manage the BHS branches through a franchise model.

Currently, the group operates shops in the Middle East for many well-known clothing retailers, including Harvey Nichols, Mango and Zara. Two months ago, Al Mana acquired 70 international BHS stores and the company’s e-commerce platform.

The news comes after BHS entered administration last April. The financially-troubled retailer fell into the hands of private investment banking firm Duff & Phelps, who actively searched for a buyer while continuing store operations, but more than 10,000 jobs were cut and the company was left with a $636 million pension deficit.

Arcadia Group chairman Philip Green attempted to save BHS from its financial woes, but was found to be the culprit of the company’s decline by the U.K.’s work and pensions committee. In 2015, Green sold BHS for less than $2 to Retail Acquisitions Ltd., a group that lacked industry experience. Green allegedly offered to contribute $116.7 million to the pension deficit, but it may take a while for the Pensions Regulator to determine the best settlement for BHS.