BHS owner working on rescue package with US investors


The owner of BHS has said he is working with private US investors to put together a rescue package for the collapsed retailer.

Dominic Chappell said he would look to save a "substantial majority" of the department store chain's 164 shops and continue the business under the BHS brand.

Speaking to the Press Association, Mr Chappell said: "The pension deficit was weighing us down and not allowing us to move forward. After the administration, when the pensions side of the business is sorted out, we will be able to move on. I'm working with US investors to buy a substantial majority of stores."

BHS collapsed into administration on Monday, putting 11,000 jobs at risk.

Mr Chappell acquired BHS for £1 from retail tycoon Sir Philip last year, taking on a £571 million pension deficit.

Both men have come under fire - Sir Philip for paying his family £400 million in dividends from the business and mismanaging the pension scheme, and Mr Chappell for sucking a reported £25 million out of BHS over the last year.

However, Mr Chappell hit back, saying: "It's a storm in a teacup. All the money that was taken out was legal and legitimate and went to pay fees."

While not blaming Sir Philip directly for the retailer's demise, when asked where the blame for the retailer's collapse lies, Mr Chappell said: "You only need to look at the pension deficit when we took it over."

Administrators Duff & Phelps are currently seeking buyers for the firm as a going concern, although industry experts have expressed doubts over whether BHS can be saved in its current form.

It is understood that a number of retailers, including Sports Direct, are considering making a play for several stores.

On Tuesday it was revealed that Sir Philip will be called to appear before MPs to face questions over the collapse.

The billionaire will be invited to give evidence before a cross-party committee of MPs carrying out an investigation into the retailer's administration, its pension liabilities and the impact it will have on the Pension Protection Fund.

Labour MP John Mann has called for Sir Philip to pay back the dividend or risk losing his knighthood.