Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley is back in the hunt to acquire BHS and has vowed to keep all its stores open if a deal is struck.
Ashley, who was reportedly involved in last-ditch talks to rescue the retailer before it collapsed into administration last week, has said his plans to buy the 88 year-old chain remain alive.
“Any continuing interest that we have in BHS would be on the basis that we would anticipate that there would not be any job losses, including jobs at head office, and that all stores would remain open,” Ashley told the Sunday Telegraph.
Retail analysts previously rejected the idea that BHS can survive as a going concern, as it has struggled to remain relevant in the current retail climate. Around 11,000 jobs also remain at risk.
It is unclear what Ashley’s long-term plans would be if he were to acquire BHS. Last June, he appeared to be diversifying with the launch of a discount variety store, Mega Value.
Administrators for BHS are understood to have had more than 50 expressions of interest. B&M are eyeing some stores, Retail Week revealed, while others believed to be interested are Edinburgh Woollen Mill founder Philip Day, South African retail entrepreneur Christo Wiese and former Asda boss and current Co-op Group chairman Allan Leighton.
Two separate MP-led inquiries have been set up to investigate BHS’s collapse, with the chain’s most recent owner, Dominic Chappell, and Sir Philip Green, who sold to it the former racing driver and a group of financiers for £1 last year, due to appear in front of the committees.
Green is expected to be quizzed over BHS’s estimated £571m pension deficit, which is also the subject of a probe by the Pensions Regulator.