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Retail giant Arcadia on verge of collapse

written by Bella Palmer

If the insolvency is confirmed, the business could go up for sale and a number of stores could face permanent closure

Retail giant Arcadia is reportedly on the brink of collapse with 15,000 retail and head office jobs at risk.

The group - which owns Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins - is preparing to appoint administrators from Deloitte as soon as next week, according to Sky News sources.

It follows reports that a £30million emergency loan was rejected by lenders earlier this month.

The appointment of administrators could happen as early as Monday.

If the insolvency is confirmed, the business could go up for sale and a number of stores could face permanent closure.

Potential bidders include Boohoo - which recently acquired the Oasis and Warehouse brands.

In a statement on Friday, the company said it is working on "contingency options to secure the future of the group’s brands".

As well as Topshop, Arcadia also owns Topman, Miss Selfridge, Evans, Burton and Dorothy Perkins.

During the first country-wide lockdown, Arcadia furloughed the vast majority of its 15,000-strong workforce across more than 500 outlets.

It later axed 500 head office roles after admitting sales had taken a significant hit on the back of closures.

Staff at its shops in England have since been placed back on the government's wage subsidy scheme though its stores in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have now reopened.

Arcadia said: We are continuing to trade online through our own channels as well as through those of our partners.

Now, the business launched a 25% off sale online - with Black Friday discounts expected to run until Monday.

Arcadia underwent restructuring last year through a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

It agreed to shut 50 shops, secured a rent cut with landlords on property and struck a deal with the Pension Protection Fund to put money into the company's pension schemes.

At the time, the pension scheme deficit was estimated to be around £700million but the Sunday Times reported it is now £350m on a buyout basis.

In a deal with the Pensions Regulator, trustees of Arcadia's pension schemes were granted security over £210million worth of assets by the company.

Sir Philip's wife, Lady Cristina Green, who is Arcadia's biggest shareholder, agreed to pump £100million into the schemes over three years while Arcadia said it would inject a further £75million.

Sir Philip faced controversy over the pension scheme at one of his other businesses, BHS, which he sold to Dominic Chappell for £1 in 2015.

BHS collapsed a year later, with the loss of 11,000 jobs and a pension deficit of £571million.

Sir Philip reached a deal with the Pensions Regulator to inject £363million into that scheme.

Last month, Chappell was sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of tax evasion.


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