Tycoon Sir Philip Green has insisted he is working “daily” to find a solution to the BHS pension deficit crisis and apologised for the “sorry affair”.
Green spoke out after further criticism from MP Frank Field, chair of Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee, who has accused the Arcadia chief of dragging his feet on the matter.
Since the collapse of BHS earlier this year, following its sale for £1 in March 2015 to unknown buyer Retail Acquisitions, Green has been labelled irresponsible, greedy and callous in the media.
He hit back today when he said: “I would like to apologise sincerely to all the BHS people involved in this sorry affair. Contrary to all the coverage I have been working on this issue on a daily basis, and will continue to do so with my best efforts to achieve a satisfactory outcome for all involved as soon as possible.”
Green’s statement in full
“I find it necessary, based on the continued press coverage together with various statements from Frank Field MP, to clarify the current position.
“I, together with my executives, have been co-operating with the Pensions Regulator for some 17 to 18 months providing whatever has been requested, on a very regular basis. As Lesley Titcomb, Chief Executive of the Pensions Regulator, stated at the Work and Pensions Select Committee hearing, they had already received more than 70,000 documents in May and there has continued to be a flow since then.
“I stated at the hearing that it was my intention to try to find a solution, which is a voluntary one, to the Bhs Pensions and that is still my aim.
“Since before the Company was sold in March 2015, it was always our intention to find a plan for the Bhs Pensioners that was better than the Pension Protection Fund and that remains the case today. There is also a dialogue with the PPF and Mr Chris Martin the Chairman of the Trustees to ensure all parties are engaged in the process.
“Mr Field suggested in the House of Commons on Wednesday there was a lack of willingness on my part to reach a settlement with regard to the pension fund. This is untrue, totally inaccurate and unhelpful in solving this issue.
“There have also been suggestions in the press that I have tried to pressurise the Regulator, or, as was stated on the front page of one newspaper, ‘blackmail’ it. This is wholly untrue. I am not in control of the process. I am following the process which has been set down by the Regulator. Pensions are extremely complex issues, especially when there are more than 20,000 members involved.
“I would like to apologise sincerely to all the Bhs people involved in this sorry affair. Contrary to all the coverage I have been working on this issue on a daily basis, and will continue to do so with my best efforts to achieve a satisfactory outcome for all involved as soon as possible.”