The man who bought BHS for a £1 just over a year before it entered administration is to be hauled in front of the two committees investigating the retailer's demise, MPs confirmed today.
The Business, Innovation and Skills committee and the Work and Pensions select committee – which are probing the handling of the sale of BHS from Sir Philip Green to Dominic Chappell and its £571m pensions deficit – confirmed this afternoon that Chappell would appear on 8 June.
Chappell, who has told the press he was looking to make a new bid for the business – to the derision of insiders, will appear alongside BHS management and the board of Retail Acquisitions, the vehicle through which BHS was bought.
This will take place a week before the Arcadia boss is scheduled to appear on 15 June.
Prior to this, MPs will hear from advisers about the sale and purchase of BHS in 2015, and what arrangements were made around the pension. These sessions – which will also take in evidence from the BHS pension fund trustees – will take place on 23 and 25 May.
The committees are holding separate inquiries relating to BHS but these evidence sessions will be held jointly.
Iain Wright MP, chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) committee said: “In these sessions, we will want to explore how Retail Acquisitions (RAL) was considered to be a suitable buyer for BHS, an apparently struggling high street store which was saddled with a large pension deficit.
"We will want to untangle the nature of the advice, both formal and informal, which was provided to Arcadia and RAL as part of the sale process. We will want to probe the role of directors in this sale and to examine whether the existing regulatory regime is fit for purpose.”
Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, added: ‘We have selected our witnesses with five key questions in mind: how much money over the past decade or more left BHS? How did the pension fund deficit grow during this phase? To whom did this money go? How did the pension fund feature in negotiations over BHS’s recent change of ownership? And does the law, or rather the enforcement of the law, require reform to prevent similar episodes happening in future?”
Duff & Phelps were appointed administrators to BHS on 25 April, putting more than 10,000 jobs at risk, and the retailer is still trading from administration nearly one month on.
Five suitors are thought to have bid for the whole company ahead of last week's deadline, while campaigners – led by BHS staff – are urging interested parties and the public to support the 88-year-old institution.