Former Next, Mothercare and Burton executive Greg Tufnell is spearheading a bid to rescue beleaguered department store chain BHS.
Tufnell, who is the brother of former England cricketer and Question of Sport panelist Phil Tufnell, has reportedly emerged as the frontrunner to save the 88-year-old retailer after securing funds backed by a wealthy Portuguese family.
According to reports, Tufnell is working alongside Swiss banker Nick de Scossa and entrepreneur José Maria Soares Bento – who is said to be advising the Dos Santos family.
Tufnell, who would aim to become BHS chairman if a deal were to go through, has been in talks with administrators over a deal and has told them the Dos Santos family – which owns Portuguese supermarket group Jeronimo Martins – would pump tens of millions of pounds into rebuilding BHS, according to The Guardian.
However, representatives of the family last night told the publication that the Dos Santos’s were not involved in talks to rescue the retailer.
The Tufnell-led team has emerged as front-runners to save BHS despite rival bids from former Matalan owner John Hargreves, who is working alongside Select Fashion owner Cafer Mahiroglu, Edinburgh Woollen Mill tycoon Philip Day and Poundstretcher parent company Crown Crest.
Tufnell registered a new vehicle called Richness Group Limited at Companies House a fortnight ago, with De Scossa and Soares Bento also named as directors.
Tufnell became managing director of Mothercare in 1997, but stepped down three years later.
Since leaving that role in 2000, Tufnell has been involved in setting up a number of firms and leading buy-outs of smaller retailers.
Tufnell’s interest emerged with administrators Duff & Phelps under increasing pressure to secure a deal to save BHS, a month after its collapse.
Liquidators have been lined up in case talks break down and could be called in if a deal is not secured by the end of this week – a move that would force all 11,000 BHS staff into unemployment.
MPs on a select committee are today continuing their inquiry into how the retailer tumbled into administration just one year after Green sold it to Retail Acquisitions for a nominal £1.
The present and former trustees of the BHS pension scheme and representatives of law firm Olswang, accountant Grant Thornton and City stockbroker Cornhill Capital, will also give evidence to the joint Work and Penions Committee and the Business Innovation and Skills Committee today.
Retail Acquisitions director Eddie Parladorio, who is due to give evidence to the joint committee in June, resigned last night alongside Aidan Treacy, who was acting finance director of BHS in March and April this year.
Parladorio said: “The acquisition and then turnaround of the iconic BHS business was always going to be challenging.
“Many good people worked very hard and many good things were done with some decent progress made but, in the end, the completion of the task proved beyond reach.
“It is to be hoped that a buyer will soon be found to take the business forward and restore it to its once very proud place on the British high street.”
Treacy added that “exceptionally poor trading together with shortfall on property proceeds and challenges around trade credit” sparked BHS’s demise.
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Former Next and Mothercare exec Tufnell emerges as BHS front runner