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Strong interest in chain

Poundstretcher and HMV among Bhs bidders

British Home Stores BhsPoundstretcher is understood to have joined the bidders for troubled Bhs, while the continued interest of Philip Day, the owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, was uncertain.

HMV owner Hilco is thought to be in the mix with Matalan whose founder John Hargreaves has joined forces with Turkish entrepreneur Cafer Mahiroglu.

It is now thought that Sports Direct, controlled by Mike Ashley, is trailing the others after being out-bid.

The company fell into administration last month, putting 11,000 jobs at risk, and is being investigated by two parliamentary committees and the Insolvency Service.

The successful buyer will be asked to take on all 164 stores in the Bhs chain and the group’s debt, although there are doubts that all will remain open.

In March it reached agreement with suppliers and creditors, giving the company a brief stay of execution. Landlords cut its rent by up to 75% in 87 of its shops, but it needed to raise further capital.

The administrators Duff & Phelps are due to make an announcement on a preferred bidder next week.

The £571m pensions deficit is heading for the Pensions Protection Fund.

The work and pensions committee and the business innovation and skills committee intend to call 29 witnesses including Chris Martin, chairman of the BHS pension fund trustees and his predecessor Margaret Downes.

Also expectded to give evidence are Retail Acquisitions, which bought the chain from Sir Philip Green, as well as Green himself and the chief executive Darren Topp.

 



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