Frank Field MP, chair of the work and pensions select committee, has criticised The Ivy owner and former BHS shareholder Richard Caring for failing to disclose how much he was paid by Lady Green for his stake in BHS in 2006.
Caring held a 22.1% stake in BHS Group via holdings in two companies, Dar Jenna and Lineman Holdings.
“Given that I was a supplier to most of the brands in the high street [Caring owns supplier International Clothing Designs], the belief was that it would be better if it was not public knowledge that I was both a supplier and shareholder to a retail competitor,” Caring wrote in new evidence published today.
“Also, the other BHS suppliers might have been concerned that I was in a position of having an advantage over them as I would be seeing their product lines and price points.”
He confirmed that he receive £93.5m in dividends from BHS in the period 2002 to 2004 but did not answer how much he was paid for his shares when he sold them to Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green’s wife and business partner, Lady Green, in 2006.
“For the avoidance of doubt, and as the committees will understand, these funds came from the purchaser of the shares, Lady Green, rather than from BHS or its pension scheme,” said Caring.
But Field countered: “He tells us that this is private, and not within the scope of our inquiry. On the contrary: understanding these mutually beneficial secret deals, understanding exactly how Sir Philip Green managed to make BHS so lucrative for his family in the early years, is crucial to understanding the mess we are in now, with 11,000 jobs and 22,000 people’s full pension entitlement on the line.”
A spokeswoman for Caring told Drapers: “Mr Caring has co-operated with the select committee in its investigation and has provided two letters with comprehensive answers to their requests.
“This was a private transaction that took place 10 years ago between Mr Caring and Lady Green. There was no commitment of BHS funds involved in the sale of shares, nor did it have an impact on the BHS pension fund.”