Things have not been going well for previously perceived high street ‘King’ Philip Green. Following his rise to fame in the early 00s with some hugely successful deals, Green was seen as a celebrity businessman who could do no wrong. With the largest payout in history from his Arcadia Group company of 1.2 billion in 2005, the Green family were rolling in both money and fame as he went on to be knighted by Tony Blair for services to the retail industry.
Come 2020 however and the start of the year led to calls for Green to be stripped of his knighthood following the controversial selling of British high-street shop British Home Stores (BHS) for £1 in 2016. The sale was to notorious fraudster Dominic Chappell who was later convicted for tax evasion on the £2.2m income he received from the takeover and sentenced to six years in prison. Green was equally shamed for his withdrawal of funds from the highstreet store leaving to the business’ collapse – losing over 11,000 jobs and creating a £571m pension deficit. Whilst Green later contributed £353m to support the lost pension scheme funds his reputation was in tatters. To make matters worse, Green was also accused of sexual harassment and bullying in 2018 – charges which he vehemently continues to deny.
Cut to late 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic has seen the highstreet severely affected, with many stores closing their physical retail spaces. More than 125,000 retail jobs have been further lost this year within the Arcadia group and there is not much hope on the horizon for the future of its 500 stores and 13,000 staff as lockdown virus regulations continue to restrict highstreet shopping.
Critics say it is Topshop and other Arcadia highstreet chains’ complacent with their dominance of the market that has slowed their move online. This failure to keep up with the digital times has hit home in the age of the pandemic, where online shopping has increased but Green’s businesses – so reliant on their bricks and mortar stores – have failed to keep up with other online competition.