NEW YORK, United States — Sir Philip Green, chairman of Topshop parent Arcadia Group, has been charged with misdemeanour assault in Arizona after a pilates instructor alleged he touched her inappropriately.
Green is being charged with four counts of misdemeanour assault for “knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke,” Lauren Deakin, the deputy county attorney of the Pima County Attorney’s Office in Arizona told BoF in an email.
An Arcadia spokesperson said Green “strenuously denies these allegations.” The spokesperson added that Green would be represented at a June 19 hearing by his lawyer. Deakin said he will need a judge’s permission to avoid attending in person.
The Pima County charges come as Green is fighting to retain control of his retail empire, which includes Topshop, Miss Selfridge and other chains. Sales have fallen sharply in recent years as customers have switched to competitors such as Zara, Asos and Boohoo.
Arcadia has proposed a restructuring plan that would slash store rents and close some locations, which creditors will vote on next week. If 75 percent fail to approve the plan, the company could be broken up or face liquidation. Last week, Arcadia Group filed for bankruptcy in the US, and announced that it was shutting down all of its US stores.
The charges are the latest in a series of allegations of inappropriate behaviour levied against Green. He was revealed last year to be the subject of an anonymous report in The Telegraph about a “leading businessman” who was allegedly guilty of “sexual harassment and racial abuse of staff.” Just last week, Green was accused of being a serial assaulter in the House of Lords by MP Peter Hain, who said he’d heard from hundreds of women who’d said Green had touched them inappropriately.
In November 2018, Beyonce, who started her activewear brand Ivy Park with Green in 2016, bought out Topshop’s stake in the company. The musician had been pressured by activists to cut ties with Topshop after Green had been publicly accused of allegedly harassing his staff.
The latest charges stemmed from accusations by Katie Surridge, 37, who told police that the retail billionaire touched her multiple times at rethe Canyon Ranch in Arizona in 2016 and 2018 while she was teaching classes. Green owns a home at the luxury resort. Surridge has previously told reporters that he allegedly made sexually suggestive comments to her, and assaulted her several times.
The allegations represent another massive blow to an already sinking ship, said Richard Hyman, a retail analyst and high street fashion expert.
“There's been an avalanche of bad publicity surrounding Green, and that comes on top of the fact that the business generally hasn't been performing,” he said. “The brand has already been tarnished and while I think the damage has already been done, this is bound to make things worse.”
Hyman said the charges might even provoke shoppers to boycott the Topshop brand.
“The MeToo movement has been very significant in the UK and something like appearing in court in America over assault will likely cause a visceral reaction,” Hyman said. “Topshop’s target audience is young women, and these types of stories are very close to them.”