Thursday 20 June 2019

Topshop's flagship Stephen's Green store to close as part of Arcadia Group restructuring

Topshop / Topman
Jervis Street
Topshop / Topman Jervis Street

Caitlin McBride and Henry Saker-Clark

The Arcadia Group has announced plans to close six stores around Ireland including Topshop, Wallis, Evans and Miss Selfridge.

The British retail group, of which Sir Philip Green is chairman, announced the plans to scale back its retail operations around the UK and Ireland, with a total of 23 store closures across both markets.

Topshop’s flagship Irish store in Dublin’s Stephen’s Green, a three-storey premises which opened in 2005, is among those being closed as it virtually retreats from the Irish retail market.

Closures have also been announced for the Topshop store in the Jervis Shopping Centre, a 20,000 square foot premises which has been open for less than two years, and the adjoining Topman, blaming a “highly competitive retail environment” for the restructuring.

Henry Street’s Wallis-Evans hybrid will also be closing.

In Cork, the Dorothy Perkins-Evans store has been selected, and the Miss Selfridge store in Eyre Square Shopping Centre in Galway has also been earmarked for closure.

A specific date for store closures has not yet been decided, but a spokesperson for Arcadia told the Irish Independent that it would be a matter of months and not weeks. On June 5, Arcadia will meet with creditors and seek approval for the closure plan, after which, if approved, they will announce a schedule.

All of the stores will “continue to trade as normal” until the meeting in two weeks’ time. The decision puts 520 jobs in total at risk.

Specific figures for Irish employees were not available.

Read more: Caitlin McBride: 'Topshop has been letting down its customers - and by default its employees - for years'

All of Topshop and Topman’s 11 stores in the US have also been selected for closure. As part of the plan, Sir Philip Green's wife Tina has offered landlords a 20pc stake of any proceeds if the group is eventually sold.

Ms Green will also inject €56.8 million of equity into the business, on top of £50 million she had already loaned the company.

Arcadia directors will meet creditors at meetings on June 5 to seek approval for the proposals. Seventy five per cent of creditors will have to approve the plans.

Arcadia chief executive Ian Grabiner said: "Against a backdrop of challenging retail headwinds, changing consumer habits and ever-increasing online competition, we have seriously considered all possible strategic options to return the group to a stable financial platform.

"This has been a tough but necessary decision for the business.

"We will ensure all potentially affected colleagues are kept fully informed as we seek approval from our creditors on today's CVA proposals."

Daniel Butters, partner at Deloitte, said: "Arcadia and its portfolio of iconic fashion brands have faced unprecedented market conditions in recent years, which have significantly impacted the group's financial performance.

"These CVAs will provide a stable platform for Arcadia's experienced and committed leadership team to implement its turnaround plan and ensure the long-term sustainability of the group."

Speculation began early this year that Sir Philip would look to either sell off the company or close stores.

In March, Arcadia confirmed it was exploring options to improve efficiency in the business.

Later that month it hired property advisers to assess its estate while drawing up restructuring plans.

Last month US investor Leonard Green & Partners sold its 25pc stake in Topshop and Topman back to the parent company, in a move which Arcadia said simplified its structure and would allow the board to focus on restructuring.

The news comes just weeks after Sir Philip failed to appear on the Sunday Times Rich List for the first time in 17 years.

His reputation has been left damaged by the 2016 collapse of BHS, which resulted in the loss of 11,000 jobs.

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