- Sir Philip Green is reportedly in talks with China’s Shangdong Ruyi about a partial or full sale of Arcadia, which owns Topshop, Burton, and Miss Selfridge.
- Influential Labour MP Frank Field is worried about what a sale could mean for the company’s pension scheme, which is in deficit.
LONDON — Retail tycoon Sir Philip Green is said to be considering selling some or all of his Arcadia empire to a Chinese buyer.
The Sunday Times reports that Green is in talks with Chinese textiles giant Shandong Ruyi about a possible sale. Arcadia owns brands such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge, and Burton and has over 2,800 stores and 26,000 employees.
Sir Philip and his wife Tina bought Arcadia in 2002 for £850 million. The group performed well during the 2000s but has faltered in recent years due to the rise of online shopping. The company rely on a strong High Street presence and has struggled to adapt to the pace of digital-only rivals such as ASOS and Boohoo.com.
Arcadia wrote off £100 million due to declining store values and falling sales in its latest set of accounts. The Greens’ net worth also fell by over £400 million over the last year due to the collapse of BHS, which they owned until 2015, and declining High Street sales.
Green has long been rumoured to want to sell Arcadia but has been distracted by the BHS scandal for much of the last two years.
BHS collapsed in 2016 and Labour MP Frank Field doggedly pursued Green over the large pension deficit left by the retailer. An MPs report into the chain’s collapse was highly critical of Sir Philip and MPs voted to strip the tycoon of his knighthood, although nothing came of the motion. Sir Philip eventually agreed to pay £363 million to rescue BHS’ pension fund.
MPs have already voiced concern about the possibility of a sale of Arcadia, which also has a large pension deficit. The group has a deficit of around £1 billion on a “buy out” basis, according to The Sunday Times.
Field, who chairs the Work and Pension’s Select Committee, told the Daily Telegraph: “The committee will be writing to try to ascertain how this might affect the pension funds, because they are in deficit. There is a repayment plan in operation. What is going to be promised to the pensioners if there is a sale?”