Dominic Chappell, former owner of BHS, has said Sir Philip Green “went insane” and called the administrators when Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley tried to buy the high street chain, resulting in the loss of 11,000 jobs.
Chappell told MPs that Mike Ashley was on the brink of buying BHS to save it from administration but that the deal was blocked by Sir Philip Green.
Some 11,000 jobs will go after administrators failed to find a buyer for the British retailer, leaving gaping holes on high streets around the country.
In an extraordinary testimony to MPs on the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, Chappell admitted that he had made a profit off BHS despite its collapse.
Chappell bought the chain from Sir Philip Green for £1 in March 2015.
Chappell said that when the business was failing, he rang up Mike Ashley and offered him his shares in exchange for BHS. Ashley was willing to do it, Chappell said, until the plan was derailed by Sir Philip.
Mike Ashley, Sports Direct founder, said that he “100 per cent wanted to buy BHS” at a separate hearing on working practices at Sports Direct on Tuesday.
“I would have loved to have bought it,” Mike Ashley said.
“BHS is logical it’s also logical we could have offered extreme value, Sports Direct upstairs and BHS downstairs, I’m not saying a saint we could have got synergies,” he said.
He added: “Please don’t ask me any more questions or I’ll get shot.”
Chappell claimed that Sir Philip knew that Retail Acquisitions Limited, Chappell's company, knew nothing about retail and that the Arcadia boss thought they would fail.
“I think Philip genuinely thought we would fail, but he sold it to us nevertheless,” Chappell said.
Chappell said he inherited stores that had fallen into disrepair.
“For the past 10 years, there had been little or no investment in the stores,” Chappell said.
“Some shops had no heating. Staff came in to paint, to replace lights because no one had invested in it for years,” he said.
His testimony followed an appearance by former BHS bosses who alleged that Chappell had repeatedly taken money from BHS.
Darren Topp, chief executive of BHS at the time of its collapse, said that Chappell had once threatened to kill him after he challenged him over the transfer of £1.5 million in funds.
All of the 163 BHS stores in the UK will hold closing down sales in the coming weeks, marking one of the biggest failures in UK retail since Woolworths closed in 2008.
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