Collapse of High Street retailer continues to cause major ructions

Economy

A row is escalating over an attempt to force failed retailer BHS into liquidation.

A stand-off has developed between the company’s administrators and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), which is BHS’ single biggest creditor.

The PPF, a government-sponsored “lifeboat” for collapsed pension schemes, is pressing for liquidation to begin as soon as possible.

Malcolm Weir, the organisation’s head of restructuring and insolvency, said: “We are intent on securing the best possible recovery on behalf of the pension schemes from the insolvent company.

“Given that the company has not traded since August, we believe a liquidator will be able to progress all remaining issues at least as quickly as the current administrators, including the remaining leases and the ongoing investigatory work.

“This will expedite the investigations and reduce costs, and it is therefore in the interests of pension scheme members and our levy-payers to do this promptly.”

The administrators meanwhile believe that there are a number of “complicated and unresolved” trading issues which should be dealt with before handing the matter to a liquidator.

The collection of debts and ongoing claims against both Mastercard and Visa are some of the reasons that have been cited for delaying the process a while longer.

BHS lost its fight for survival in April, entering administration after a rescue plan failed to materialise, and the closure of its stores cost around 11,000 jobs nationwide.

The fallout from the company’s collapse – which amounted to the biggest casualty on the British High Street since Woolworths failed almost a decade ago – has been extensive.

The circumstances have been debated at length by Parliamentary committees and it looks likely that Sir Philip Green, the businessman who sold on the chain for £1 around 12 months before its demise, will have to pay around £300million towards a pension bailout.

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