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Tycoon agrees deal with former staff

Green to donate £363m to settle Bhs pensions row

Bhs store, Edinburgh (pic by Terry Murden)

Former Bhs owner Sir Philip Green has agreed to hand over £363 million to settle a long-running dispute with the Pensions Regulator over the failed retail chain’s pension scheme.

Under the agreement former staff will get the same starting pension that they were originally promised.

The deal ends a bitter chapter in the demise of Bhs which Sir Philip sold controversially. He then dragged his feet over compensating those left out of pocket when the chain collapsed.

The regulator launched enforcement action against him and other former owners of BHS.

The settlement comes months after Sir Philip (below) promised to “sort out” the pension scheme which had a £571m deficit. He has been vilified in the media for not fulfilling that pledge.

Today he was able to finally wash his hands of the worst episode in a hitherto successful retail career.

He said: “I have today made a voluntary contribution of up to £363m to enable the trustees of the BHS Pension schemes to achieve a significantly better outcome than the schemes entering the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), which was the goal from the outset.

“The settlement follows lengthy, complex discussions with the Pensions Regulator and the PPF, both of which are satisfied with the solution that has been offered.

“All relevant notices, including legal matters and claims from the regulator, have been withdrawn, bringing this matter to a conclusion.”

“Once again I would like to apologise to the BHS pensioners for this last year of uncertainty, which was clearly never the intention when the business was sold in March 2015.

“I hope that this solution puts their minds at rest and closes this sorry chapter for them.”

The deficit in the pension scheme was a key factor in the collapse of one of the most famous names on British high streets.

Usually, failed pension schemes are rescued by the Pension Protection Fund, which pays out a reduced amount.

Following Sir Philip’s donation, the 19,000 members of the Bhs scheme will now be transferred to a new scheme with the same starting pension that they had expected.

The Pensions Regulator chief executive Lesley Titcomb said: “The agreement we have reached with Sir Philip Green represents a strong outcome for the members of the BHS pension schemes. It takes account of the interests of both pensioners and the PPF, and brings a welcome level of certainty to present and future pensioners.

“Throughout our discussions with Sir Philip and his team, we have always been clear that we were determined to achieve the right outcome for members of the schemes, both in terms of the amount and the structure of the settlement.”

The Pensions Regulator chief executive Lesley Titcomb said: “The agreement we have reached with Sir Philip Green represents a strong outcome for the members of the BHS pension schemes. It takes account of the interests of both pensioners and the PPF, and brings a welcome level of certainty to present and future pensioners.

“Throughout our discussions with Sir Philip and his team, we have always been clear that we were determined to achieve the right outcome for members of the schemes, both in terms of the amount and the structure of the settlement.”

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