A BHS spokesman poured cold water on the notion that Dominic Chappell, the twice-bankrupt former racing driver and leader of Retail Acquisitions, will buy back the business from administrators.
“It’s ridiculous,” said the spokesman. “There’s no way [a successful bid] is going to be successful.”
BHS, which went into administration this week, recorded its best day of trading after the announcement was made on Monday, as bargain hunters led sales to spike by 80% year on year.
Administrators have received 50 expressions of interest from firms interested in some or all of BHS, which Arcadia chairman Sir Philip Green sold to Retail Acquisitions for £1 in March last year.
“Administration changes the dynamics of the business completely because you can wipe out all the bad bits like the debt and the pension,” said an industry source. “I’m sure people will be looking at some or all of the business, either using the BHS name or otherwise.
“It was always looking worrying when Sir Philip Green sold the business for £1 and a lot of people said the writing was on the wall but I thought and I’m sure he did that it would have lasted a bit longer.”
The source said the administrators are in the process of identifying the staff they need to run the business and offering them a bonus to stay on but halting anyone working on anything for the future such as buying.
In just over a year since the chain changed hands, the management team led by BHS chief executive Darren Topp has been working on a turnaround plan which includes rolling out the convenience food offering to stores, agreeing a deal with Debenhams to run lighting concessions in its rival’s stores, introducing new concessions from Quiz and Claire’s, and establishing a strategy to focus on its core consumer.
It was due to launch a new website later this year and introduce a new finance platform to separate it from Arcadia systems.
It has emerged that Chappell transferred £1.5m out of BHS to a separate company called BHS Sweden, which is unconnected to the business, on Tuesday last week before administrators were called in. Chief executive Topp discovered the move and demanded he return it, which he did a day later, less £50,000 for “foreign exchange costs”.
Chappell has not yet responded to Drapers’ request for comment.