BHS suitors have been told to increase their offers for the retailer by Tuesday, according to a report by The Financial Times.
It is understood that there are currently four potential buyers for the beleaguered 88-year old high street chain, including the likes of Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley; Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Peacocks owner Philip Day.
The administrators said on Sunday: “We are dealing with a number of interested parties and are hopeful of concluding a sale of the business and assets of BHS next week.”
A person familiar with the matter told the FT that a potential buyer was asked by the administrators to increase their offer by “tens of millions.”
The collapse of BHS has prompted MPs to question how Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group and its advisers at PriceWaterhouseCoopers were able to ensure that Retail Acquisitions, which acquired BHS for 1 pound last year, could afford to support the company’s pension scheme.
According to The Telegraph, BHS’s pension trustees failed to ask about what plans Dominic Chappell, the man who headed Retail Acquisitions, had to protect the company’s pension fund.
“There was no conversation about how Retail Acquisitions would service the pension deficit, only about what working capital it would have to ensure BHS could continue running. There was an agreement that the pension liabilities would need to be reshaped, but that was it,” a source was quoted by The Telegraph as saying.
Chappell has been heavily criticised after he led the BHS acquisition for a nominal £1 in 2015. Chappell, who has little retail experience, in addition to having declared bankruptcy three times, told the BBC he was “upset and devastated” about the company going into administration, but doesn’t have any regrets.
He cited Christmas trading conditions as one of the reasons for the retailer’s collapse, in addition to the anti-avoidance case launched by the pensions regulator into last year’s takeover.
“Yes I’ve had two bankruptcies, but the long and the short is that I had a strong board, internationally renowned companies representing me, and I was prepared to spend a lot of money on BHS.
“We were faced with some serious problems. We reduced the overheads of the company and I am confident that, if we could have kept trading, we would have been breaking even in September of next year. We had made huge progress,” he added.