Arcadia to shut 260 stores


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The Independent Online

Arcadia group is expected to shut around 260 stores over the next few years as store leases come up for renewal - but this does not include the number of shops which may be opened in due course.

Sir Philip Green today said his retail empire had seen a near 40% slide in profits as chains including Top Shop and Miss Selfridge chose not to pass on increasing costs to cash-strapped customers.

Arcadia, which also includes BHS, Burton and Evans, reported underlying pre-tax profits of £133.1 million compared with £213.1 million last year, as like-for-like sales including VAT fell 1.8%.

Sir Philip said the company, which has 2,507 stores across its brands, saw margins squeezed by 1.8% as it took a £53 million hit to absorb price increases.

Elsewhere, the company reported a bottom-line loss of £120 million after writing down the value of "certain onerous leases" across the estate due to the challenging economic conditions.

The retail sector has been feeling the pinch as household budgets are squeezed by rising prices, sluggish wage growth and battered confidence.

Arcadia said young fashion brands - such as Top Shop, Top Man and Miss Selfridge - were trading positively but the wider group saw a 4.4% decline in like-for-like sales in the first 12 weeks of the new financial year.

But Sir Philip, whose family ranks 13th on the 2011 Sunday Times UK rich list with an estimated fortune of £4.2 billion, said the unseasonal weather in October and November was partly behind the weaker trade.

The retail magnate, who is based in Monaco, did not pay himself a dividend for the year, despite the group turning in sales of £2.7 billion.

Arcadia will follow the likes of Mothercare, HMV and Thorntons, which have all shut stores amid the economic gloom.

Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index, said: "Store group Arcadia reminds everyone that the British consumer is still generally AWOL, with no likelihood of a quick return."

But Arcadia said it would continue to invest in its brands, after investment of £113 million in the year to August.

The company also has an international business with 600 franchised outlets in 36 countries - 21 of which opened in the last year. Arcadia will open its third US store in Las Vegas next year.