SIR Philip Green’s retail empire is facing collapse within days, putting 13,000 jobs at risk, reports say.
The Arcadia Group – which owns Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins – is preparing to appoint directors next week, Sky News reports.
A leading retail figure said Arcadia’s collapse became inevitable after talks with lenders broke down over a £ 30million emergency loan.
The appointment of directors could take place as early as Monday, although someone familiar with the situation has reportedly said the plan is not yet finalized and could be delayed.
Reports come on Black Friday, with shoppers spending £ 2million per minute online in the sales windfall.
Topshop is currently offering 25% off everything on its website.
Earlier this year, Arcadia warned it could close 100 of its stores due to coronavirus.
Arcadia brands include Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Topman, Topshop and Wallis.
Mr Green was criticized earlier this year for asking for the taxpayer’s help with critics saying the millionaire should “sell one of his yachts” instead.
According to The Sunday Times Rich List in 2019, Mr Green’s private wealth was £ 950million.
It wasn’t until last year that Mr. Green’s retail empire was saved from the brink of collapse after his wife agreed to bail him out of his financial woes.
The move saw Arcadia close 48 stores and cut 1,000 jobs.
Sir Philip is believed to be unlikely to buy Arcadia’s business from the trustees.
But if the insolvency is confirmed, it should trigger a rush among creditors to get their hands on the company’s assets.
This could involve Arcadia’s online operations and stores that are allowed to open under foreclosure restrictions to continue trading.
Bidders will likely start circling Topshop immediately, with online retailers Boohoo and Missguided among the potential buyers.
Consumers can still shop from Arcadia brands at this time and sources have said The Sun gift cards will still be accepted, even if they need to be administered.
However, it is worth spending the money as soon as possible, as the policy may change in the future.
House of Fraser, for example, temporarily stopped accepting gift cards when it took office in 2018.
Buyers at Debenhams were also urged to spend their gift cards when the department store went into administration last year.
Arcadia has over 500 stores in the UK, with the majority in England currently closed due to current coronavirus restrictions.
Sir Philip Green bought the high street band in 2002 for £ 850million.
Three years later, he paid one of the biggest dividends ever – £ 1.2bn – to his wife and registered owner, Lady Tina Green.
During David Cameron’s reign as Prime Minister, he helped advise on public sector waste and was seen as a street mogul.
His reputation was first called into question over his decision to sell the BHS department store chain in 2015 for £ 1 to Dominic Chappell, a former bankrupt recently jailed for tax evasion.
The former High Street King was then blasted after BHS went missing in 2015 for a £ 571million black hole.
In 2017, the mogul agreed to pay £ 363million to a BHS pension fund.
Two years ago Mr Green was accused of groping numerous staff members and other women.
This led to former Congressman Frank Field calling for him to be stripped of his chivalry.
Over the years, Sir Philip Green has been pictured hanging out with A-List celebrities including Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Hurley, rarely avoiding the limelight.
For his 60th birthday in 2012, his wife Tina threw him a four-day party costing around £ 6million, with attendees including Naomi Campbell, Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Hudson.
Following the latest reports, an Arcadia spokesperson told The Sun: “We are aware of recent media speculation about the future of Arcadia.
“The forced closure of our stores for extended periods of time due to the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on trade in our activities.
“As a result, Arcadia’s boards of directors have worked on a number of contingency options to secure the future of the Group’s brands.
“The brands continue to trade and our stores will reopen in England and the Republic of Ireland as soon as government COVID-19 restrictions are lifted next week.”
Dave Gill, national manager of the retail union Usdaw, said the reports are “a devastating blow to Arcadia workers and could not have come at a worse time, just before Christmas.”
He added: “We are seeking urgent meetings with management and urge them to end their long-standing anti-union stance and engage with us.”
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As of mid-August, more than 43,000 retail jobs had been cut since the coronavirus lockdown began as main streets struggled to survive.
Retailers like Aldo, Debenhams, Jaeger, Oasis, Peacocks and Warehouse have also all collapsed since the start of the pandemic.
And in March, Laura Ashley collapsed in administration after negotiations to save the channel failed for the same reason.