Claims that Sir Philip Green would not sell BHS to a rival because he wanted to preserve his reputation have been denied.
Convicted fraudster Paul Sutton, allegedly told LEK Consulting, who was advising him on his plan to buy BHS, that Green did not want any of his retail rivals to successfully engineer a turnaround of BHS because he did not want his personal reputation to suffer.
In a letter LEK added that, according to Sutton, the Green family “believed that if the business could be separated, put under new management and trade “for a few years” that would absolve them of responsibility for any future failure, and associated reputational damage.”
However Sutton who appeared in front of MPs yesterday, denied the claims.
When questioned, he told MPs; “No. That is not correct. Obviously the business was losing money but from his [Green’s] point of view, whether he kept or sold it, it didn’t make any difference to Topshop/Topman business.
”I didn’t say that. I haven’t got a clue why they [LEK] would say that. He made it perfectly clear that the business was for sale [so retail rivals would be aware of the sale].
“It [any future collapse of BHS] would always reflect on him, whether it was in six, 12 or 24 months.”
He did however concede that his potential purchasing of other Arcadia brands along with BHS were “discussed”.
LEK Associates were engaged by Sutton when he was in the frame to buy BHS.
He was subsequently forced to pull out of any bid after a dossier detailing allegations against him was sent by Green. He told MPs yesterday that he was the subject of a blackmail campaign that he had reported to the police.
Sutton also told MPs yesterday that he “never in a million years” thought that Dominic Chappell, whom he had introduced to Green, would end up running BHS.
Dominic Chappell Paul Sutton’s driver
Sutton revealed that Dominic Chappell was his driver when he was working on a deal to acquire BHS due to his licence being taken away, and that Chappell gradually got closer to the deal, taking it over and eventually buying BHS for £1.
Sutton’s appearance in front of MPs yesterday was the latest in a series of sessions which form the joint Select Committee inquiry by the departments of Business, Innovation and Skills and Work and Pensions into the collapse of the department store chain.
MPs also heard from property giant Alex Dellal, who aided the financing of Chappell’s bid for BHS, and Deloitte’s Neville Khan, an Arcadia adviser.
Dellal provided MPs with the financial details of the relationship between himself and Retail Acquisitions but maintained that he was unaware of the inner workings of BHS under Retail Acquisitions.
Khan told MPs that Green met on Monday with the Pensions Regulator to discuss a rescue plan, “Project Atlantis” for the BHS pension plan.
Green vowed earlier this month, at his session in front of MPs, that he would solve BHS’ pension black hole.
Another session will take place this morning.
Witnesses will include Goldman Sachs bankers, Arcadia finance director Paul Budge, the property directors of both BHS and Arcadia and Green’s stepson Brett Palos who is a director of Arcadia parent company Taveta Investments.