Irish arm of Arcadia pays €96m dividend, despite 9pc revenue slump
The Irish arm of retail group Arcadia, owned by billionaire tycoon Philip Green, handed over an £81.1m (€96m) dividend to its UK parent group last year, new company filings reveal.
The dividend payment was made even as the Irish operation, which trades under well-known high-street names such as Dorothy Perkins, Evans and Topshop, continues to struggle amid the downturn.
Newly filed accounts at the Companies Office reveal that the dividend was paid by AG Retail Holdings to Arcadia Group Fashion Holdings, the company that's controlled by Mr Green.
The straight-talking billionaire sold a 25pc stake in his Topshop chain late last year for £350m (€414m) in cash and used the proceeds to pay off debt attached to Arcadia.
The deal valued Topshop at £2bn (€2.3bn), including its debts. The stake was sold to US private-equity firm Leonard Green.
Accounts for the Arcadia operation in Ireland paint a bleak picture.
The directors of the firm note that revenue at its outlets in Ireland slumped 9pc to £46.6m (€55.1m) in the financial year to the end of August 2012.
However, its losses narrowed substantially to £327,000 (€387,000) after it didn't incur as big an exceptional charge in the year related to onerous leases.
"During the year, turnover declined by 9pc as all brands found trading conditions in Ireland extremely difficult," the directors note.
"To counteract this decline in performance, the company has sought to reduce costs wherever possible."
"Despite the prevailing market conditions, the board remains optimistic that the continuing investment in stores and freshness of product will enable the company to meet its objective of growing both total and underlying sales," they add.
"Further improvements to the supply chain, including tight stock and commitment management, will also be key to ensuring that gross margins are optimised going forward."
The accounts for the company show that it set aside £14m (€16.5m) in 2011 to reflect onerous leases, compared to just under £1.8m (€2.1m) in the last financial year.
"In light of the difficult trading conditions being experienced by the company, the directors have reviewed those leasehold stores currently making a loss, to assess whether their future operating cash flows are projected to meet their rental and other property cost obligations," note the accounts.
They also reveal that on August 26 last year, the trade and assets of the company relating to its Topshop and Topman brands in Ireland were sold to another group company for £8m (€9.5m).
The Irish Aracdia arm notes that its ultimate controlling party is Christina Green and her immediate family.