Philip Green Apologizes for BHS Collapse


Philip Green gives evidence to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and Work and Pensions Committee in London on Wednesday. Photo: Zuma Press

LONDON— Philip Green, the billionaire former owner of collapsed U.K. retailer BHS, apologized Wednesday for the collapse of the high-street chain.

The high-profile retail investor told a British parliamentary hearing that “nothing is more sad than how this has ended.”

The department-store chain, once a mainstay of British midmarket retailing, filed for protection from creditors in April after a restructuring failed to find a buyer. Earlier in June, administrator Duff & Phelps announced that the company was to be wound down, leaving more than 11,000 jobs at risk.

Mr. Green took BHS private in 2000, and in 2015 sold the company to former race-car driver Dominic Chappell for the nominal fee of £1 ($1.41). It collapsed earlier this year.

Mr. Green said he first seriously considered selling the retailer in 2014, and told lawmakers he regretted not offloading the company earlier, adding it would have “saved a lot of aggravation.”

He also denied taking too much money out of the company via its dividend policy, describing the financing of BHS as “extremely conservative.” On his record as a retailer, Mr. Green said: “When you buy a business… people have to trust you. I think we have a pretty good record as a company.” Mr. Green’s Arcadia Group owns chains including Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins.

The store’s demise has sparked a political controversy in the U.K. and has spawned several parliamentary inquiries. Last week, Mr. Chappell faced hours of questions from lawmakers in which he attempted to explain the circumstances under which he bought the company, derived profits and saw it founder.

Mr. Chappell apologized for the collapse of the retailer, which was founded in south London in 1928. He said: “I am very upset there are 11,000 that have now lost their jobs.”

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