British tycoon Philip Green's high street empire near collapse

Business | 27 Nov 2020 8:52 pm

British billionaire Sir Philip Green's retail empire is facing collapse within days, putting 13,000 jobs at risk and bringing the curtain down on the high street career of one of Britain's most controversial businessmen, Sky News reports.

His Hong Kong operations were wound up in July.

Sky News has learnt that Arcadia Group – which owns TopShop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins – is preparing to appoint administrators from Deloitte as soon as next week.

One retail industry figure said Arcadia's collapse had become inevitable after talks with a number of lenders about an emergency £30 million loan ended without success.

The appointment of administrators could happen Monday, although one person close to the situation said the plan had yet to be finalised and that it could yet be delayed.

If the insolvency is confirmed, it is expected to trigger a scramble among creditors to get their hands on the company's assets.

It would involve Arcadia's online operations and the stores which are permitted to open under lockdown restrictions to continue trading, according to one retail figure.

Arcadia's pension scheme is likely to have the biggest claim on proceeds generated by Deloitte, with TopShop and TopMan - the most valuable brands in Sir Philip's empire - likely to be worth several hundred million pounds.

Bidders are likely to begin circling TopShop immediately, with Boohoo Group, the online fashion retailer, among the prospective suitors.

Some of Arcadia's other brands face being picked up by distressed retail investors or, like prominent names such as Cath Kidston, Oasis and Warehouse, becoming online-only fashion labels.

Sir Philip is said to be unlikely to seek to buy back any of Arcadia's trading operations from administrators.

Confirmation of the group's administration would come after a turbulent few years in which Sir Philip's reputation was destroyed and his fortune diminished by turmoil on the high street and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.

Arcadia employs about 13,000 people, having announced about 500 head office job cuts earlier this year.

It has more than 500 standalone sites, the majority of which are closed because of the second England-wide lockdown, which ends next week.

Most of the group's employees have had their wages subsidised by the taxpayer this year under the government's furlough scheme.

Depending upon the outcome of an insolvency process, a substantial proportion of those jobs will be jeopardized.
Earlier this month, Sky News revealed that Arcadia had approached a number of lenders about borrowing £30 million to stave off collapse, while The Sunday Times reported that the company's directors were intensifying preparations for the appointment of administrators.

In response to that report, Arcadia said there was no imminent plan to appoint administrators.Photo: Sky News




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