Is Dominic Chappell's BHS bid serious?

BHS store with man and umbrella in front Image copyright European PhotoPress Agency

The man who bought BHS for a pound and saw it put in the hands of administrators just over a year later is mulling a bid to buy the company back out of administration.

Would you believe it? No - say many senior retail figures. And yet, speaking to me today, Dominic Chappell said that with the millstone of the pension fund now winched into the pensions lifeboat, he is talking to US investors about mounting a bid for the substantial majority of BHS's 164 stores.

In practice that means around 120 with the 40 heaviest loss-making stores excluded.

Sources at BHS treated the announcement with bewilderment. Other very senior retail sources used more colourful language.

His credibility has taken a very serious knock. The details that have emerged about Dominic Chappell and his fellow directors' extraction of millions in professional fees has attracted widespread criticism.

Just last Tuesday, just days before BHS collapsed, he transferred £1.5m from the struggling company to a Swedish firm owned by a friend and fellow board member. The BHS CEO ordered its repayment which when it came was £50,000 short.

The good news for BHS and its 11,000 employees is that his is one of the more unlikely bids in a competitive field of over 50 expressions of interest for some or all of the business.

There is no doubt that without a £571m pension bill round its neck, BHS is a far more attractive proposition. Whether that in itself is enough to restore the fortunes of a brand that garners more nostalgic affection than current trade is yet to be seen.

More on this story