Business

Sports Direct founder, Mike Ashley, interested in BHS stores

Woman walking past BHS signs Image copyright Getty Images

The founder of Sports Direct, Mike Ashley, has written to BHS administrators expressing an interest in taking over some of its stores.

In his letter, Mr Ashley said he was keen to save the BHS brand as well as a number of jobs with the retailer.

The company is being wound down after administrators failed to find a buyer for the collapsed business.

"We can confirm that we have a continued interest in BHS," said a Sports Direct spokesman.

"We have written to the administrator seeking to re-open a dialogue about saving a number of jobs and stores along with the BHS name."

The administrator, Duff & Phelps, confirmed it had received the letter but made no further comment.

The BBC's Joe Lynam said he understood the firm would respond on Monday, by urging Mr Ashley to make a formal bid for the stores and/or the brand name.

In a hearing before MPs last week, Mr Ashley confirmed that he had "100%" wanted to buy the High Street retailer.

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Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley is to give written evidence in the BHS inquiry

Separately, the former owner of BHS, Dominic Chappell said that just before BHS went into administration he had arranged a rescue deal backed by the billionaire owner of the sports retailer, but that it had been blocked by Sir Philip Green, from whom Mr Chappell bought BHS for £1 last year.

Mr Chappell 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".

However, Sir Philip has denied knowing about the deal and a spokesman has said he "was unaware of any bid interest by Mike Ashley".

'Biased'

Sir Philip has been asked to give evidence before a committee of MPs on Wednesday. They are investigating the collapse of BHS and whether it could have been prevented.

However, the retail billionaire and former BHS owner has been embroiled in a spat with Frank Field, chairman of the inquiry, claiming that he is "biased" and should resign from the committee.

He has written a letter saying he was "not prepared to participate" with the work and pensions committee hearing, unless Mr Field stands down.

Mr Ashley, who built up Sports Direct to be the UK's largest sports retailer with more than 400 stores, is due to submit written evidence to the BHS inquiry later this month.

Coincidentally he was also testifying before MPs last week about the working practices in his company.

BHS, which consisted of 163 stores, ran out of money last month, jeopardising 11,000 jobs and leaving a huge hole in its pension fund.

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