- Dominic Chappell insists Retail Acquisitions “gave it the best shot” in BHS turnaround bid
- He admits taking money out of the retailer but claims this was “a drip in the ocean”
- Chappell says the consortium “took a chance” by acquiring BHS
- The former racing driver “sincerely and utterly apologises” to 11,000 BHS workers
Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has defended his time in charge of the collapsed retailer and insisted his consortium “gave it the best shot”.
In his first interview since the department store chain’s demise, Chappell claimed that the money he took out of the retailer had no impact on its collapse, likening the £2.6m he received to “a drip in the ocean”.
The three-time bankrupt received a £600,000 a year salary and took out a separate £1.4m from BHS after acquiring the business from Sir Philip Green for a nominal £1 in March 2015.
But the ex-racing driver told BBC’s Newsnight: “Did I take a lot of money out? Yes, I did. But did the business fail because of the amount of money I took out? No, it didn’t. This was just a drip in the ocean compared to the money what was needed to turn around BHS.”
Chappell admitted he was “a chancer”, but said he and his consortium took on the task of turning BHS around because no one else wanted to buy the business, which had been loss-making for seven consecutive years.
“We took a chance with BHS,” he said.
“We were the only people to stick our heads above the parapet and give it a go, otherwise [Sir Philip Green] would have liquidated that company and thousands of people would have lost their jobs straight away.
“We gave it the best shot we possibly could. We did everything we could to save that company. We were probably the only people who were prepared to take that risk to try to get it to break even, to try to get it to make a profit. So if I’m a chancer for that, well, yes I am.”
Chappell, who admitted that BHS’s demise had “absolutely destroyed” his reputation, claimed he had since been offered jobs by “two or three major retailers”.
But he “sincerely and utterly apologised” to the 11,000 BHS staff who will be left unemployed when the 164-store business is eventually wound down, after administrators failed to find a buyer.
Administrators have since struck a deal to sell BHS’s overseas business and website to Qatari group Al Mana, which runs some of the retailer’s international stores under a franchise agreement,