A British MP on Monday called for billionaire Topshop tycoon Sir Philip Green to be stripped of his knighthood.
The Arcadia Group chairman has been blamed by many a member of parliament for the collapse of BHS, the 88-year-old fashion and homewares retailer that this week entered administration, or the United Kingdom’s version of bankruptcy protection, putting 11,000 jobs on the line.
Green, who bought BHS in May 2000, sold it for one pound (less than $2) last year to Retail Acquisitions Ltd., a group of investors led by Dominic Chappell, a former racing car driver with no prior retail experience who has been declared bankrupt twice. Both Green and Chappell are now being probed about their management of the retailer.
Accounts filed at Companies House last summer showed that the BHS pension scheme, which has about 20,000 members, recorded a deficit of 139 million pounds ($200.3 million) in the year ended Aug. 30, 2014, up from 136.6 million pounds ($196.9 million) the year before. That figure has since increased to 571 million pounds ($833 million), as of Jan. 23.
The UK’s work and pensions committee confirmed Tuesday that it would investigate how the scheme would affect the state-backed Pension Protection Fund, which it’s currently being assessed to enter.
Labor MP John Mann has insisted Green repay the 400 million pounds ($583.5 million) he took as dividend payments during his time helming BHS in a bid to plug the hole he said he helped create.
“Sir Philip Green and his family have made millions out of BHS and its hard working staff. He took over a company with a healthy pension pot, yet when he sold BHS a black hole had appeared in its fund,” he said. “Sir Philip Green has taken over 400 million pounds out of the company and now must be held responsible for the actions that were taken under his stewardship. There is a very simple and honorable solution to this crisis: repay the dividends, live up to the name he has chosen for his new yacht, ‘Lionheart’, or lose his knighthood.”
Green has reportedly offered to pay 80 million pounds ($116.7 million) towards the deficit.
Duff & Phelps said trading will continue as normal at the retailer’s nearly 170 stores while administrators seek to sell it as a going concern.