- Leadership failures and personal greed led to collapse of BHS, the MPs found
- Green is accused of “bulldozing” the sale through without proper oversight
- Retail Acquisitions boss Dominic Chappell also found to be at fault
- There is concern some of these failures are not unique to BHS
Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green is ultimately to blame for the collapse of BHS, a “sorry and tragic saga” that will cost 11,000 people their jobs, MPs have said in a damning report on the downfall of the high street chain.
“One person, and one person alone, is ultimately responsible for the BHS disaster,” said Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions select committee, which carried out an inquiry into the retailer’s collapse.
“While Sir Philip Green signposted blame for 11,000 job losses and a gigantic pension fund hole to every known player, the buck stops with him. His reputation as the king of retail lies in the ruins of BHS.”
Field continued: “His family took out of BHS and Arcadia a fortune beyond the dreams of avarice, and he’s still to make good his boast of ‘fixing’ the pension fund.
“What kind of man is it who can count his fortune in billions but does not know what decent behaviour is?”
Green sold BHS to Retail Acquisitions, led by Dominic Chappell, for £1 in March 2015 - just over a year before it fell into administration.
In written evidence published in mid-July, Green argued that “on any fair review of the BHS balance sheet on sale and of the support we provided to the BHS business throughout it is clear we invested substantially in the business, we lent substantial sums to the business and we gave Retail Acquisitions every chance with a solid platform to take the business forward.”
But Iain Wright, chair of the business, innovation and skills committee, which ran a concurrent investigation into the chain’s collapse, said the sale to a “consortium led by a twice-bankrupt chancer with no retail experience” should never have gone ahead and blamed Green for being determined to push the deal through.
“There was a complete failure of corporate governance, with Sir Philip bulldozing the sale through without proper oversight or challenge from his weak and impotent board,” he said.
Wright also blamed Chappell, outlining that he “took no risk and put no money into the venture and yet gained huge rewards as BHS crumbled around him”.
“His failure is bad enough, but that he effectively had his hands in the till is an insult to the employees and pensioners of BHS that he let down so badly,” he added.
The 66-page report states that leadership failures and personal greed caused the downfall of the 88-year old chain, calling it “the unacceptable face of capitalism”.
The two committees said they fear some of the failures are not unique to BHS and there is need for broader consideration of the framework in which companies operate.
The work and pensions select committee said it will continue to examine the future of occupational pension schemes and “there may be a case for stronger and more proactive regulation”.
“Our inquiry will not be the end of scrutiny of the demise of BHS,” the report said. “We support investigations by the Financial Reporting Council, the Pensions Regulator, the Insolvency Service and the Serious Fraud Office.”