5 things we learned from MPs grilling BHS bosses



Dominic Chappell and bosses at BHS have been giving evidence to the Commons Business and Pensions committees.

Here's five things MPs learned about the BHS fiasco.

Dominic Chappell is a man of many guises.

Much has been made of Chappell's background as a former racing driver turned businessman.

However, Michael Hitchcock, BHS's financial consultant, had his own take on Chappell. He is a "mythomaniac" or "a Premier League liar and Sunday pub league retailer, at best," he said.

BHS chief executive Darren Topp also had some choice words about Chappell's conduct. He said Chappell's assurances "unravelled and rather than putting money in, he had his fingers in the till".

It's all about applying the smell test.


Hitchcock said that based on what he heard from people within the business the motives of Chappell and Retal Acquisitions Limited were not what they expected from a 90% shareholder.

He told Richard Fuller MP: "There is a big smell test Mr Fuller, which I adopt in a lot of these situations, and it just did not smell right."

Hitchcock was also unimpressed with how the committee tried to find a workable solution for BHS. He said that a small team was needed to come up with a solution before taking it to a bigger committee.

He added: "It was like a Mexican stand-off. Everyone was dancing around the handbags, it was crazy to see."

Don't ask too many questions.

Michael Hitchcock, former BHS financial adviser, Darren Topp, BHS chief executive, and Richard Price, former BHS managing director, give evidence to MPs

The business world has been variously described as ruthless and cut throat, and Topp got a taste of that world when probing Chappell on a £1.5 million transfer of BHS money to Sweden.

"If you kick off about it, I'll come down there and kill you," Topp alleged Chappell told him.

Chappell believed BHS could have been saved.

BHS carrier bag in a shopper's hand

Chappell said: "I think our company was savable and I think had Sir Philip assisted us we could have saved BHS. We were in the throes of beginning a turnaround proper after a very successful property CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) and we were moving forward."

But when asked if he thought Sir Philip had "set him up", Chappell later added: "I think Philip genuinely thought that we would fail. But he sold it to us nevertheless.

"I believe firmly that he was very hostile about us doing the property CVA and believed we couldn't get it done and that the company would collapse."

While BHS was going bust, the Bahamas was a thriving business hub...

a closed BHS store

While thousands of jobs were on the line, Chappell was conspicuous by his absence. He had originally claimed that he was having eye surgery, but on Wednesday admitted he was in the Bahamas, albeit to hold "business meetings".