Retail round-up: Ex-BHS owner arrested, SFO to conclude its investigation into Tesco, Mamas & Papas reports rise in earnings, and more

Ex-BHS owner Dominic Chappell arrested over unpaid tax

Dominic Chappell, the former owner of BHS, has been arrested by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers as part of an ongoing inquiry into unpaid taxes linked to his firm Swiss Rock, the Financial Times reported.

Swiss Rock Ltd. reportedly owes more than £500,000 in tax which includes £365,000 in VAT and £196,306 in corporation tax. As part of Chappell’s controversial acquisition of the department store chain, Swiss Rock was paid at least £1.6m by BHS.

HMRC said: “We do not comment on identifiable cases, but can confirm we have arrested a 49-year-old businessman.”

Chappell was released later. He said: “There was a return that was made in error; they [HMRC] have acted upon it and we are rectifying that as we speak.”

SFO soon to conclude its investigation into Tesco

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) expects to reach charging decisions by the end of November against former Tesco bosses over the profits scandal which plunged Britain’s biggest retailer into crisis in 2014, Sky News reported.

The prospect of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) now “firmly back on the agenda” will relate to both individuals and the company.

Tesco and the SFO declined to comment.

Mamas & Papas reports rise in earnings

Mamas & Papas may report a £6m rise in earnings for the year to March, The Telegraph reported.

BlueGem private equity firm bought Mamas & Papas in 2014 and invested £20m in the business and halved the number of shops in the UK. The company’s recovery may have been owing to renegotiating rents and cutting 90 jobs from its head office in Yorkshire.

Like-for-like sales grew more than a fifth. However, total sales may have reduced owing to store closure.

It has relaunched its ecommerce operations and opened a store in Westfield, Stratford.

BlueGem declined to comment on an upcoming sale process.

Electrical stores plan steep price rise following Christmas

Electrical stores such as Dixons Carphone and AO World, and department store John Lewis, are set to increase prices by double digits to absorb higher import costs owing to the falling pound, The Telegraph reported.

Prices of products such as TVs made by Japan’s Samsung, to dishwashers made by Germany’s Bosch, will be increased.

Chief executive of AO, John Roberts, said: “Our Black Friday offers will be largely unaffected as they were agreed before Brexit so will represent even better value for customers in the run-up to Christmas.”

AO World will increase prices by between 4% and 6% next year.

Analyst at HSBC, Andrew Porteous, said: “If there is to be an impact on consumer spending it is likely to take some months to materialise.”