GREEN DAY: There’s nothing like an inquisitive TV reporter to spice up a summer holiday, and that’s just what Britain’s sensationalist Sky News did this week, tracking down the embattled retail tycoon Sir Philip Green on his yacht in Greece and needling him about the BHS pension fund.
A Sky reporter and TV crew are shown motoring in a water taxi to Green’s megayacht, docked off the island of Ithaca in the Ionian Sea, and asking staff whether they could speak to Green.
The reporter says it wasn’t at all hard to track down the yacht, which he describes as almost as big as a football field, “oozing ostentation” and “a 100 million-pound ($116 million) monument to excess.” He points out that the 40 members of yacht staff include a chef and a dog walker.
The aim of the exercise, the reporter says, is to question Green about his stewardship and the ultimate demise of BHS, which Green owned for more than a decade, and sold last year to a man with no retail experience. The mass-market high street retailer has since gone bust, with 11,000 jobs lost.
Earlier this year, a U.K. parliamentary committee investigated the collapse of BHS, and the 571 million pounds, or $755 million, hole in its pension fund, which widened under Green’s 15-year ownership. Green has publicly apologized for the debacle, and has repeatedly said he his sorting out the pension fund problems.
“He’s not going to talk to you,” Green’s yacht staff are filmed telling the Sky reporter. “It’s a no, and you’re not supposed to be anywhere near the boat. You can leave, thank you.”
The news crew later returns to shore — and stumbles upon Green, dressed in shorts and a white T-shirt, in the port. “Will you go away? Go away. Which bit are you not understanding?” an angry Green says.
Although the film shows a scuffle between Green and the crew, the reporter later confirms that he and Green “calmly shook hands off camera” and went their separate ways.
Despite the reconciliation, Sky News did not get the answers it wanted, and Green returned to his yacht. A Green spokesman told WWD he had no comment on the Sky News piece.
Sky’s provocations are the latest in a series of public demands that Green sort out the BHS issue as soon as possible.
Frank Field, the British Labour MP who led the parliamentary inquiry, said he believes Green should write a check immediately to cover the pension shortfall.
As reported, Green said in a letter that he has continued to engage with Britain’s pensions regulator before and after the sale of BHS, and has cooperated fully with its processes.
“Recently, real progress has been made…We want to help the BHS pensioners. I will not be bullied by your press campaign and political grandstanding into supporting the BHS pension schemes,” Green wrote in the letter to Field.
Field later told the BBC that he planned to meet the pensions regulator to discuss Green’s claims about finding a solution to the pension shortfall.