I’m sure you all have heard that BHS went into administration on the 25th April after having been sold by Sir Philip Green in March 2015 for £1. Most stores have already closed, marking the end of its tenure as a well-known fixture of British high streets, including Durham. The jobs of the 11,000 employees of BHS have been lost and 20,000 current and future pensioners have been facing substantial cuts to their entitlements. Meanwhile, Sir Philip Green and many others involved in the decisions that, in my opinion, led to the failure of BHS seem to have been able to walk away freely.
I think that the failure of BHS can in part be attributed to bad business decisions and personal greed and those involved should face serious action for what they have done.
Over the years of Sir Philip’s ownership, it seems as though significantly more money left the company than was invested in it. Despite the pension deficit of £571m, Philip Green and his family reportedly collected £586m in dividends, rental payments and interest on loans during their 15 year ownership. As the pension deficit grew, there seems to have been limited efforts to resolve it. Personally, I think that the failure to make the contributions necessary to maintain the pension scheme means that Sir Philip and his directors now have the responsibility to fill the current pension gap.
BHS was sold to Dominic Chappell in March 2015. It appears that his team could offer no equity and had no means of raising funds on a long term basis. In my opinion, it seems obvious that he was a wholly unsuitable purchaser and that his shortcomings were overlooked during the sale. For this, I feel they should also be held accountable.
Sir Philip keeps insisting that other people are to blame and does not seem to be accepting responsibility for his actions. The tragedy of the whole situation is that it is the ordinary employees who are losing out.
I want you all to know that I will be speaking out against the actions of the current and former owners of BHS and will be calling for further action to be taken against them. I also fully support my colleague Frank Field in his work as chair of the Department of Work & Pensions Committee.
If you have been affected by the situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me with your opinions and concerns.