The spectacular collapse of BHS continues to overshadow all other news in the papers, with The Mail putting Peacocks, Sports Direct, Aldi and Primark among high street names set to cherry-pick stores.
The Mail also reports that former BHS owner Dominic Chappell wants to buy the stricken retailer again – just one year after snapping it up for £1 – but minus 40 lossmaking stores. Chappell told The Times he is attempting to put a bid together with US investors and is one of the 50 expressions of interest in BHS received by administrators so far. Chappell, who has been labelled a ‘buffoon’ in the press, said: “I don’t give a damn about what has been said about me in the last week. All I care about are the employees of BHS and what is best for them, and if we have a credible bid then why shouldn’t we make an offer for BHS?” Chappell has also launched a blistering attack on the retailer’s chief executive Darren Topp accusing him of “haemorrhaging” money from the company, according to The Telegraph.
The Times notes that Lord Myners has risked reigniting a feud with Green by calling for the government to launch an inquiry into the collapse of BHS. Myners, the former M&S chairman who fought over a bid for the retailer by Green, has filed 11 questions in the House of Lords calling for further investigation into BHS demise (The Guardian). The Work and Pensions Committee has confirmed that former owner Sir Philip Green will be called by MPs to give evidence over the collapse of BHS and the retailer’s pensions deficit (The Telegraph).
Ashley Armstrong writes in a Telegraph column that the failure of BHS posed some unfashionable questions for Sir Phil. Tory MP David Davis called the saga the “dark side of capitalism” in an article for The Financial Times examining how much Green and his family took out of the retailer. A separate article in The FT looks at BHS’s finances under Philip Green. The Times examines the “superyachts, private jets and big parties — inside the world of billionaire Tina Green”. Nil Pratley in The Guardian writes that the “BHS fiasco demands a proper investigation”.
The FT reports that BHS’s owners made two offers to plug the company’s £571m pension scheme deficit in the past three months — but both were dismissed by the UK’s pension rescue fund for falling well short of the action it deemed necessary. The investigation by the PPF into the shortfall in BHS’s scheme is expected to be one of the UK watchdog’s toughest battles yet, The FT added in a separate story.
The FT also writes that dozens of BHS landlords will struggle to fill properties following the retailer’s collapse as the portfolio is largely made up of “oversized, dilapidated stores that predate online shopping”.
Finally, Anne Perkins writes in an opinion column in The Guardian that the UK’s misbehaving corporations need their wings clipped.
Elsewhere, the full-year results of Home Retail Group gets picked up, with The Guardian focusing on the 36% profits slump at Argos as shoppers buy fewer electrical goods. The Times notes the fall in the bottom line came weeks before Sainsbury’s takeover. The FT picks up on the hefty loss for the full year as a result of a large one-off impairment charge weighed on the owner of Argos in one of its last earnings reports as an independent company. Home Retail booked an impairment charge of £852m on goodwill that arose from its original acquisition of Argos in 1998, following the acceptance of Sainsbury’s offer. The charge pushed Home Retail to a pre-tax loss of £839.3m.