'Stunning' Arcadia gives Green £460m pay day

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The Independent Online

The billionaire retailer Philip Green was today in line for a bumper £460 million pay day after clearing his borrowings on fashion empire Arcadia.

The entrepreneur and his family have a 92% stake in the Top Shop to Burtons group, leaving them in line for the lion's share of a £500 million dividend to be awarded to shareholders.

It came as the group posted what analysts described as "stunning" results, with annual operating profits rising by 30% to £296.3 million.

Mr Green, whose £9 billion offer for Marks & Spencer failed earlier this year, confirmed he had paid back the £808 million HBOS bank loan taken out to to buy Arcadia two years ago. The loan carried a six–year repayment schedule.

He said the group's 28,000 staff had helped deliver the results despite tough market conditions.

"The market remains challenging but we are confident that further progress can be made with our world class brands," he said.

News of the payout comes just weeks after Mr Green's family collected £40 million in dividends from the department store group Bhs.

No indication was given of what the billionaire would do with the latest boost in his fortunes.

Arcadia, which also includes the Miss Selfridge and Wallis brands, continued to work on its supply chain and the speed at which new clothes arrive on the market during the year to August 28.

Same–store sales, which strip out new store openings, fell by 0.8% in the 52 weeks to August 28, while total sales rose by 0.8% to £1.66 billion.

Total sales in the seven weeks since then were 6.7% higher and like–for–like sales were 3.1% ahead.

At the bottom line, pre–tax profits rose to £246 million from £160 million.

Analyst Ricard Ratner, at stockbroker Seymour Pierce, said the "stunning set of numbers" confirmed what could be done with excellent sourcing.

He said the question now was whether Mr Green would make another offer for M&S, although he did not believe this was likely.

The figures follow a downbeat update from M&S, which reported disappointing second quarter sales and confirmed interim pre–tax profits were expected to fall.