Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell was dubbed a “premier league liar” who had his “fingers in the till” during yesterday’s parliamentary hearing. The meeting with the Commons Business and Pensions Committees was far from smooth-sailing and extremely detrimental claims were made against the Retail Acquisitions Boss.
On questioning Chappell over a £1.5m transfer of BHS revenue to Sweden, the chain’s Chief Executive Darren Topp revealed that the BHS owner had threatened to kill him. “If you kick off about it, I’ll come down there and kill you” Topp claimed Chappell had said.
Chappell, who bought the department store chain for £1 last year, was also branded a “mythomaniac” and a “premier league retailer” according to former BHS Finance Consultant Michael Hitchcock.
Topp further noted that while the majority of BHS staff continued to suffer from the department store’s demise, Chappell had his “fingers in the till”. He received a £1.8m payment from the sale of BHS and £7m from the sale of the retailer’s offices.
Nonetheless, on taking the stand, Chappell chose to divert the blame onto former owner Sir Phillip Green. He claimed that the Arcadia owner had blocked rescue attempts from Mike Ashley and allowed BHS to fall into administration.
“Mike Ashley was going to save the business, but Sir Philip Green was screaming down the phone, saying he didn’t want to get involved with Mike Ashley,” Chappell said.
Chappell claimed that he had done all he could to save the company, including offering his shares to Mike Ashely, but his attempts were “rail-roaded” by former owner Green.
“I think our company was saveable and I think, had Sir Philip assisted us, we could have saved BHS. We were in the throes of beginning a turnaround proper after a very successful property CVA and we were moving forward,” he added.
Chappell continued to make the hefty claim that it was Green who ultimately made the decision to put the chain into administration by pulling out a £35m loan.
The wounded BHS owner declared that he will be looking to launch a legal suit against Green and Arcadia over a BHS property sale to his stepson – he said that BHS lost out on £3.5m as a result.
However, Chappell did eventually take some ownership of the business’s fall.
Asked if he had profited out of his ownership of BHS, Mr Chappell said: “Yes, I have made a profit out of this, but I racked up considerable fees.”
“I am very upset that there are 11,000 people directly and a number of thousand indirectly who have lost their jobs. It’s a travesty that that has happened. That is an apology.
“As a majority shareholder I must stand forward and say we were part of the downfall of BHS.”
Attention will now turn to Sir Philip’s appearance in front of the committee, on June 15.