The retail landscape has been bruised once again with the planned closure of six Arcadia stores in Ireland, including the Topshop flagship store in Dublin...
Arcadia Group, the retail empire owned by Sir Philip Green, is planning to close six of its stores in Ireland, 17 in the UK and all 11 of its stores in the United States. These closures will put over 520 jobs at risk.
The shops include Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Evans outlets. The proposal has also set out rent cuts at a further 194 Arcadia Stores across the UK.
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In a statement, the company said: "No UK or Irish trading locations will close in the short term, and employees and suppliers will continue to be paid on time and in full. The Group is committed to keeping redundancy levels to a minimum. The locations which have been identified for potential closure employ 520 people.
"Every effort will be made to redeploy affected colleagues within the business where possible, and any staff unable to be assigned a position elsewhere in the Group will be eligible for applicable redundancy payments," it added.
"Tough but necessary"
The closure plan set out by Arcadia will look for approval at a meeting on June 5 from landlords and other creditors. Until then, all Arcadia stores will trade as normal. However, the pensions regulator in the UK has said it has doubts over whether the deal will protect the pensions of workers. The support of the regulator is vital in order for a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to be approved and implemented.
Chief Executive of Arcadia Group, Ian Grabiner said the move was "tough but necessary" to save the business. It is also being seen as a last-ditch attempt to prevent administration or a full break-up of the company.
Sir Philip Green's wife, Lady Tina Green is the main shareholder in Arcadia Group and will invest £50 million in the company to cover the planned rent cuts.
The Arcadia group had been struggling in recent years to retain the younger consumer. These shoppers were looking online, to websites such as Pretty Little Thing, Missguided and Asos for on-trend pieces (which were sometimes a fraction of the Topshop price).
Miss Selfridge and Wallis had long fallen away from the eyes of the fashion world, but Topshop had remained strong. However, in recent years it too had struggled with the increased volume of online competition. Continued rising rents have also contributed to Arcadia's financial woes.
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Sir Philip Green had also found himself embroiled in claims of inappropriate behaviour and bullying in recent times. In 2015, he sold retail chain BHS for £1; it then went into administration leaving a debt of £573 million in its pension fund. Some 19,000 pensions were put under threat following the scandal and in 2016, Green paid £343 million into a new pension scheme for former employees.
In a further blow for the tycoon, for the first time since 2002, he did not make the billionaire list in the annual Sunday Times' Rich List. In just one year his fortune had plummeted from £1.05 billion to £950 million.
Full list of Irish closures
Cork (Dorothy Perkins and Evans)
Dublin, St Stephen's Green (Topshop and Miss Selfridge)
Dublin, Jervis (Topshop and Topman)
Dublin, Henry Street (Evans and Wallis)
Dublin, Liffey Valley (Wallis)
Galway (Miss Selfridge)
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