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King of retail Green bled BHS dry, says scathing report

By Gavin Cordon

Published 25/07/2016

Former BHS boss Sir Philip Green has been branded the "unacceptable face of capitalism" as a parliamentary inquiry found he systematically extracted huge sums from the collapsed store group while leaving its pension fund in deficit.

In a damning joint report, two Commons select committees accused the entrepreneur of seeking to blame anyone but himself for the firm's failure and said he has a "moral duty" to make a "large financial contribution" to the 20,000 pensioners facing substantial cuts to their benefits.

While the committees were scathing about Dominic Chappell, who bought BHS for £1, and the "directors, advisers and hangers-on" associated with the deal, they said that ultimate responsibility lay with Sir Philip.

Although his family had accrued "incredible wealth" from their early, profitable years of owning BHS - while paying little in tax - Sir Philip failed to invest in the firm and refused to address the "substantial and unsustainable deficit" in the pension fund.

The two committees - Work and Pensions and Business, Innovation and Skills - said it was "inconceivable" Sir Philip had not realised Mr Chappell, a former bankrupt with no retail experience, was a "manifestly unsuitable" buyer and that he had "acted to conceal the true state of the BHS pension problem" from him.

The report - among the most scathing ever issued by a Commons committee - comes just days after the Cabinet Office disclosed that it was reviewing Sir Philip's knighthood and will intensify the clamour for him to be stripped of the honour.

Frank Field, chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, said: "One person, and one person alone, is ultimately responsible for the BHS disaster. His reputation as the king of retail lies in the ruins of BHS."

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