Philip Green’s retail empire Arcadia Group collapsed owing about 800 million pounds ($1.1 billion) to creditors and with a bigger-than-expected pension deficit.
A statement of financial affairs prepared by Arcadia and sent to creditors details the exposures the company had just before the business failed in November. It lists the suppliers owed money and reveals a group pension deficit of 510 million pounds. Previous estimates among analysts had pegged the shortfall at about 350 million pounds.
The retail group behind the Topshop and Dorothy Perkins brands buckled in November after years of underperformance and high costs were aggravated by pandemic-related lockdowns. The collapse marked a stratospheric fall from grace for Green, one of Britain’s most prominent retail tycoons.
Green was lambasted in Parliament in 2016 for the sale and subsequent collapse of another business he controlled, the BHS department store group. He was criticized for placing the pension of current and former BHS workers at risk and enriching his family through the payment of large dividends. He eventually agreed to inject 363 million pounds into the BHS pension plan.
The document made public this week shows that trade creditors, including clothing and fabric suppliers, are owed 163 million pounds by Arcadia. Landlords are out of pocket almost 37 million pounds and the U.K. tax authority is owed some 44 million pounds. The statement of affairs indicated they will only receive a fraction of what they are owed.
An Arcadia representative declined to comment.
Arcadia’s pension deficit is likely to shrink as the fund receives money from the breakup and sale of the business. Asos Plc, the online retailer, has already bought the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands, while online rival Boohoo Group Plc purchased the remainder, including Dorothy Perkins and Burton.
Trustees of the pension program confirmed in an emailed statement they have received 180 million pounds so far and more is expected, which will further reduce the deficit.
By Deirdre Hipwell