- Business minister Anna Soubry says no plans for “immediate” redundancies at BHS
- Shadow business minister Angela Eagle says “serious questions” for former owner Sir Philip Green
- Pensions Regulator investigating BHS’s pension scheme
MPs have voiced their concern over the collapse of BHS, while a government minister has urged potential buyers to come forward.
In a statement to the House of Commons, business minister Anna Soubury said: “I understand that there are no plans for immediate redundancies or store closures, and that the administrators are looking to sell BHS as a going concern.”
Soubury later said the government wants “somebody to come forward and buy the business”.
It comes after Retail Week revealed on Friday that BHS was on the brink of administration, which was confirmed today with the appointment of Duff & Phelps as administrators for the 88 year-old chain.
However retail analysts have suggested BHS is likely to disappear from the high street and it stores will be sold off in chunks. BHS’s workforce of around 11,000 also face an uncertain future.
Questions for Sir Philip Green
Opposition MPs took the opportunity to attack BHS’s former owner Sir Philip Green, a Tory peer, over the chain’s reported £581m pension blackhole.
Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle said: “There are some serious questions to answer, not least by the former owner, Sir Philip Green.”
She added: “When Sir Philip bought BHS, the pension fund had a surplus of over £5m… yet when he got rid of the business, this had turned into a deficit of hundreds of millions of pounds.”
Eagle called for Green, who sold the chain for £1 last year, to be “held accountable” and pay his fair share of the pension deficit.
Green has reportedly so far offered £80m to the Pensions Regulator.
The Pensions Regulator today confirmed it is investigating BHS’s pension scheme. The state-backed Pension Protection Fund could be left to pick up the liability.
BHS’s current owners, Retail Acquisitions, has also faced questions over its handling of the business.
Soubury added: “If there’s a suggestion of impropriety we will come after people.”