The last owner of BHS before it entered administration has accused prior owner Sir Philip Green for breaking his promise to resolve the pension problems facing the retailer before it changed hands.
According to a submission to MPs this week, Dominic Chappell – whose firm Retail Acquisitions controversially acquired the department store chain from Green’s Arcadia Group for just £1 in March 2015 – said he had bid for BHS provided the business was debt-free and that Green allegedly promised to help Chappell secure credit insurance to stay afloat.
“Expert advice was taken by (Retail Acquisitions) prior to purchase concerning the pension,” Chappell told The Guardian.
“It was stated by all, including Arcadia and Sir Philip Green, that the pension was in the process of being sorted and was not something that the new owners and manager of BHS would be liable for, provided BHS continued to make the annual contributions for the yearly shortfall and continued engaging with the pension trustees.”
Let’s put the question to you, our readers. Do you think Sir Philip Green deserves to have his knighthood stripped?
— Retail Gazette (@retailgazette) October 19, 2016
Chappell’s submission was made to Westminster the day before yesterday’s parliamentary debate around the collapse xof BHS and whether Green should be stripped of his knighthood.
He also told The Guardian that he agreed with the MPs’ unanimous vote in favour of removing Green’s honorary title, although that power laid with the Honours Forfeiture Committee.
“He pushed the business over and he did not stick to his word,” Chappell said.
“He is a bully and a nasty individual. I am bitter about what has happened.
“There are 11,000 people out of work that would not have been if he had stuck to his word, and there is carnage on the high street.”
BHS collapsed 13 months after it was acquired by Chappell, who has a history of bankruptcy and no retail experience, and subsequent revelation of a £571 million pension black hole led to a drawn out and publicised parliamentary investigation.
However, according to evidence seen by MPs Chappell’s firm Retail Acquisitions received payments of at least £17 million from the retailer.
A spokesperson for Green and Arcadia Group said they had no plans to make a statement about the MPs’ debate and Chappell’s comments.