4 May 2021: Argyll opens Leeds office

17 Jun 2020: TPR updates Contribution Deferral guidance

5 Aug 2019: TPR's tougher stance on recovery plans

7 Mar 2019: TPR’s Annual Funding Statement a game-changer

7 Dec 2018: DWP publishes superfund consultation

26 Jun 2017: TPR agrees settlement with Coats

30 Apr 2017: PM promises TPR M&A powers

28 Feb 2017: TPR agrees settlement with Sir Philip Green

9 Nov 2016: Brexit so far

8 Nov 2016: BHS ripple effect

2 Nov 2016: Sir Philip Green sent warning notice

1 Nov 2016: Argyll Financial becomes Argyll Covenant

3 Oct 2016: Tata Steel update

2 Jun 2016: BHS to be liquidated

29 Mar 2016: Tata plans sale of UK Steel

3 Sep 2015: TPR takes dim view of late valuations

13 Aug 2015: New TPR covenant guidance

28 May 2015: Contribution notice in Carrington Wire case

22 Dec 2014: Third warning notice for Guinness Peat

18 Dec 2014: New PPF rules for Asset-Backed Contributions

19 Aug 2014: TPR announces Lehman Brothers settlement

10 Jun 2014: TPR publishes revised funding code

27 Mar 2014: EC postpones holistic balance sheet

20 Mar 2014: PPF announces new insolvency risk model

17 Mar 2014: PPF guarantees harder to certify

7 Feb 2014: Argyll Financial submits consultation response

2 Dec 2013: Regulator publishes new draft funding code

19 Nov 2013: Asset-backed contributions guidance from TPR

22 Oct 2013: FSD warning helps MF Global scheme buyout

10 Sep 2013: TPR supportive of Kodak restructuring

31 Jul 2013: Schneider Electric acquires Invensys for £3.4bn

24 Jul 2013: Supreme Court overturns FSD super-priority

8 May 2013: Support for employers in TPR's Statement

2 Jun 2016: BHS to be liquidated
BHS’s administrators have confirmed that a buyer for the group could not be found.  This brings a sad end to the much-publicised difficulties of the 163 store group with responsibility for its £600m pension scheme likely to fall on the PPF.

The BHS scheme entered a PPF assessment period in March this year following the retailer’s company voluntary arrangement (a qualifying insolvency event).  It was hoped that a rescue deal would emerge to keep BHS afloat and potentially keep the scheme out of the PPF.  While the BHS group is now being wound down, it leaves behind two parliamentary inquiries, an Insolvency Service investigation into the current and former BHS Directors and a TPR anti-avoidance investigation.

BHS had been loss-making for a number of years driven by a changing UK retail environment with increased competition from the internet and popular budget high street brands.  The catalyst for attention however was the sale of the group for £1 in 2015 by the then owner Sir Philip Green to an entity called Retail Acquisitions Ltd.  This followed substantial dividend payments in earlier years.

According to press reports, TPR was first in discussions with BHS in 2009 about its deficit.  However it opened an anti-avoidance investigation following the 2015 sale to determine whether the previous owners should be pursued to make up the shortfall.

Argyll comment:  Another failure of a well-known UK high street retailer following Austin Reed’s entry into administration in April.  The PPF had been working with BHS management to find a solution to keep the scheme out of the PPF.  In accordance with its current practice this could have entailed a 33% stake in the business.  Whether additional value can be secured for the scheme will now depend on the outcome of TPR’s anti-avoidance investigations, which have already been ongoing for over a year.  There could also be regulatory changes pending the outcome of the parliamentary inquiries.

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