Philip Green denies Arcadia empire 'came close to collapse' in explosive BBC interview

Tycoon blames press for fuelling public distrust in the business

Sarah Young@sarah_j_young
Thursday 13 June 2019 13:46
Philip Green denies Arcadia empire 'came close to collapse' in explosive BBC interview

Sir Philip Green has refuted suggestions that the Arcadia retail empire came close to collapse in a fiery interview with the BBC.

On Wednesday, Green’s Arcadia group – which includes Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis – was saved from administration after landlords voted to back turnaround plans that will see rent prices reduced and around 50 stores close.

Sir Philip faced backlash from landlords, after shopping centre owner Intu, which counts Arcadia as a tenant in 35 of its stores, refused to accept rent reductions of 25 to 50 per cent.

Despite suggestions that the decision had been on a “knife-edge”, the Topshop billionaire rejected the idea that the Topshop group had been on the point of going bust.

Speaking to the BBC, Sir Philip said: “It didn’t come close to collapse. We won the vote. It was a legitimate vote, and it was won.

“Many more landlords clearly voted yes than no. If one landlord wants to make a lot of noise that’s his choice.”

While Sir Philip said the move was cause for celebration for Arcadia’s workforce and supply chain, he did acknowledge that the retail landscape has changed and that he had been slow to react.

“There are companies announcing they are closing 100 stores…everybody knows it’s a changed marketplace,” Green explained.

“The market place has changed forever – people want a different kind of service. Should we have seen that three or four years ago – maybe. But now we need to get on with the job.”

Sir Philip added it was a testament to how much his suppliers trusted him that they continued to deliver stock to the stores when the company looked on the brink of administration and blamed the press for fuelling public distrust of the business.

“Because you lot make them all f***ing jealous, that’s why – it’s pretty basic”, he told the news outlet.

“They don’t like people who can write cheques.”

Over the years, Sir Philip and his family have taken large sums of money out of the Arcadia group, including a £1.2bn dividend in 2005 – the biggest UK corporate pay check in history at the time.

As a result, critics have said that he could have contributed more cash to the struggling business.

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Sir Philip’s reputation was also damaged by the 2016 collapse of BHS, which resulted in the loss of 11,000 jobs.

The tycoon faced criticism for his handling of the retailer and eventually agreed to pay £363 million of his own money into its pension pot.

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