Sir Phillip Green’s empire ‘set to collapse’ if bid to shut branches fails

Sir Philip Green faces a risk of collapse if he is stopped from carrying out radical cuts , an expert suggests.

Reports say the Topshop tycoon will unveil plans to shut a wave of fashion shops in the next few weeks.

Such a move, costing many jobs, would be another blow to Britain’s struggling high streets.

Veteran retail analyst Richard Hyman said: “We might be seeing the beginning of the end for Sir Philip and Arcadia.”

However last night Green’s firm Arcadia denied planning big cuts in staff or widespread closures.

Cutbacks would need to be supported by landlords and the Pension Protection Fund, which rescues retirement schemes when firms go to the wall.

It is not certain Green’s plans, would be approved. Experts say in a worst case scenario, if his cuts were blocked, Green’s firm Arcadia could go into administration.

Mr Hyman said: “That should not be excluded, it is possible.”

One former employee said of Green: “He plays his cards close to his chest. It is crazy the way he operates.”

Arcadia has 570 standalone UK shops and 500 concessions. In August 2017, it employed just over 23,400 staff – 20,500 in shops and nearly 3,000 in head office.

It controls Topshop, Topman, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins. Arcadia’s sales fell 17% in the three months to last November, said analysts Kantar.

Operating profits dived from £215million to £131million in the year to August 2017.

Arcadia’s two pension schemes had a combined deficit of £565million on one measure in 2017.

Green – who is reeling from claims of sexual and racist behaviour towards ex-staff, which he vehemently denies – was slammed for selling BHS with a £571million hole in its pension.

After criticism, he agreed to put £363million of his own cash into plugging the shortfall.

Last night Arcadia said “we are exploring options to operate in a more efficient manner”.

It insisted: “None involve significant redundancies or closures.”

The Pension Protection Fund said: “Members can be assured the PPF is there to protect them if needed.”

Green was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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