Jun 15, 2016
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Retail tycoon Philip Green apologises over BHS demise

Jun 15, 2016

Retail tycoon Philip Green apologised to British lawmakers on Wednesday at the opening of a grilling over his role in the demise of department store BHS which he sold to Dominic Chappell, a serial bankrupt with no retail experience.

A screenshot of Philip Green's Twitter homepage

After more than a month of hearings into the demise of BHS, which is likely to result in the loss of 11,000 jobs and a gaping pensions' deficit, the star witness was appearing before a joint session of parliament's Business, and Work and Pensions select committees.

Green, who has been called the "unacceptable face of capitalism" by some politicians over his management and sale of the 88-year-old store chain, told the panel of lawmakers that he was sorry about what had happened and had always run BHS in a conservative manner.

"There certainly (was) no intent at all on my part for anything to be like this. It didn't need to be like this and I just want to apologise to all the BHS people who have been involved in this," he said.

For nearly two decades the billionaire, 64, has been one of the leading players in Britain's retail sector, purchasing Topshop owner Arcadia in 2002, and twice trying and failing to buy Marks & Spencer, Britain's biggest clothing retailer. Green was also commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 to report on cost savings in government.

But his reputation has been tarnished by the BHS affair.

Retail Acquisitions Ltd (RAL), a little known vehicle led by Chappell, bought the loss-making BHS from Green for 1 pound in March 2015.

BHS is now being wound down after administrators failed to find a new buyer, leaving a pensions' deficit of 571 million pounds, based on how much it would cost to fully address the shortfall between assets and future liabilities with insurance or a buyout.

Green had owned BHS for 15 years and when it was profitable paid out 423 million pounds in dividends, mainly to his family.

Some lawmakers have called for the tycoon to be stripped of his knighthood - awarded by Tony Blair's Labour government in 2006 for services to retail - if he does not make good the pension deficit.

Chappell had last week told lawmakers he accepted partial responsibility for the collapse of BHS, which had 164 stores, but said Green and the retailer's management should share the blame.

Britain's Insolvency Service and the Pensions Regulator are also investigating BHS' collapse.


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