Business

BHS: MPs call Sports Direct founder to give evidence

Mike Ashley Image copyright Getty Images

The Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has been invited by MPs to give evidence on the BHS collapse.

He will give a written account and is not required to attend in person.

The retailer's former owner Dominic Chappell told MPs on Wednesday that he had tried to arrange a rescue deal with Mr Ashley, but that Sir Philip Green had stopped it happening.

However, Sir Philip, who gives evidence next week, said he was "unaware of any bid interest by Mike Ashley."

Coincidentally, Mr Ashley himself gave evidence at a committee hearing on his own company, Sports Direct, earlier this week.

Asked whether he had wanted to buy BHS he said, against the advice of his PR representative, "100% yes".

During Wednesday's BHS testimony, Mr Chappell told MPs that, just before BHS went into administration, he had arranged a rescue deal backed by the billionaire owner of the sports retailer.

He said that, on learning of this deal, "Philip went absolutely crazy, screaming and shouting down the phone that he didn't want to get involved with Mike Ashley".

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The committee of MPs also wants to hear from other people connected to BHS's fortunes, including:

  • Paul Sutton, who was an early bidder for BHS before Dominic Chappell entered the fray
  • Richard Caring, who had a stake in BHS, and is now a restaurants and clubs tycoon
  • Mike Sherwood, a senior executive at Goldman Sachs Europe
  • Brett Palos, Sir Philip Green's stepson, a property developer who bought a BHS store last year

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee are hearing evidence into the collapse of the 163-store group.

Duff & Phelps announced last month that BHS would be wound down with the loss of up to 11,000 jobs after efforts to find a buyer failed. The company's pension fund has a deficit of £571m.

BHS, which went into administration in April after the company ran out of money and could not pay suppliers, is holding closing down sales over the coming weeks.

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