Belfast Telegraph

BHS holds closing down sales in Northern Ireland stores

By Staff Reporter

Closing down sales are now being held in Northern Ireland's four BHS stores after the retail chain went into administration.

A spokeswoman for administrators Duff and Phelps said the stores in Belfast's Castle Place and Holywood Exchange, as well as the Abbey Centre and Bow Street Mall in Lisburn, were expected to stay open until the end of the summer.

Around 200 people are employed in the stores. It's understood the winding-down process is taking longer than expected due to the amount of stock in the stores.

The chain's former owner, Dominic Chappell, has defended taking millions out of the doomed retailer as a "drip in the ocean" and accused Sir Philip Green of siphoning huge sums from the firm. Former bankrupt Dominic Chappell admitted he was a "chancer" who had benefited "a lot" from owning the high street giant, but denied the £2.6m package that included a £600,000 salary had contributed to its demise.

BHS's collapse in April left 11,000 people out of work and a £571m black hole in its pensions fund, triggering an inquiry by MPs into the whereabouts of the cash.

Speaking to BBC's Newsnight, Mr Chappell said he "sincerely and utterly" apologised to the high street giant's staff and insisted he had made every effort to turn the ailing company around.

He said: "I took a big risk going in and it was a risk reward, we live in a risk reward society, that's the way companies are built and fail. Did I take a lot of money out? Yes I did.

"But did the business fail because of the amount of money I took out? No it didn't.

"This was just a drip in the ocean compared to the money that was needed to turn around BHS.

"What would I say to them (BHS employees)? I sincerely and utterly apologise for you being out of work. It's hideous. It did not need to happen. We did take money out of BHS, but we certainly didn't take nearly £1bn out of it."

Mr Chappell previously told the Commons Business and Pensions Committees that his efforts to save BHS were confounded by Sir Philip, who owned the retailer for 15 years.

The tycoon has come under fire for taking £400m in dividends from BHS and then selling it to Mr Chappell, who had no previous retail experience.

Belfast Telegraph