Scottish Daily Mail

As Ar­ca­dia faces col­lapse, it’s... SIR SHIP WRECKED

Loung­ing on his su­pery­acht, this was Philip Green just days be­fore his High Street fash­ion em­pire hit the rocks. Now, chart­ing his sud­den down­fall, we re­veal how he’s al­ready ditch­ing his bil­lion­aire baubles. So is he sunk for good?

- By Ruth Sun­der­land and Richard Eden Monaco · Topshop · Dorothy Perkins · British Homes Stores · London · Monte Carlo · The Dorchester · United Kingdom · AS Monaco FC · United States of America · Robert Redford · Australian Greens · Arcadia · Philip & Cristina Green · Sao Tome and Principe · Dominic Chappell · Belgravia

Soak­ing up the sun on his £100 mil­lion su­pery­acht un­der a fur-lined blan­ket, Sir Philip green ap­pears not to have a care in the world. This pic­ture was taken off Monaco this week, be­fore yes­ter­day’s rev­e­la­tion that his re­tail em­pire was tee­ter­ing on the brink of col­lapse, putting 13,000 jobs at risk.

The 68-year-old ty­coon’s ar­ca­dia group, which owns Top­shop, Bur­ton, Dorothy Perkins and other brands, is in cri­sis talks and could ap­point ad­min­is­tra­tors as soon as Mon­day if no res­cue is agreed.

Yes­ter­day a spokesman in­sisted ‘a num­ber of options’ were still be­ing worked on but re­fused to com­ment on claims that talks with lenders had col­lapsed.

The tur­moil marks a new low point for green, the swash­buck­ling busi­ness­man once dubbed ‘king of the High Street’ now fight­ing to save his busi­ness.

it could be the big­gest re­tail col­lapse of the pandemic so far, and unions say it ‘could not come at a worse time’ for staff as Christ­mas ap­proaches.

ar­ca­dia’s 550 shops are ex­pected to stay open even if the firm is placed into ad­min­is­tra­tion, al­low­ing them to trade over the fes­tive pe­riod be­fore be­ing carved up and sold off in the new Year.

The threat of ad­min­is­tra­tion fol­lows his de­ci­sion to sell de­part­ment store chain BHS to se­rial bank­rupt Do­minic Chap­pell for just £1 in 2015. The deal pro­voked a storm of con­tro­versy, with the re­tailer col­laps­ing just one year later.

it trig­gered a long-run­ning row be­tween green and the pen­sions reg­u­la­tor about who would plug a moun­tain­ous hole in the BHS re­tire­ment scheme, with the ty­coon even­tu­ally agree­ing to cough up £360 mil­lion.

green, whose fam­ily is ranked 154th on the Sun­day Times Rich List with a for­tune of £930 mil­lion, took over ar­ca­dia in 2002 for £850 mil­lion.

Just three years later, he in­fa­mously paid what was at the time the largest ever div­i­dend — a stag­ger­ing £1.2 bil­lion — to his wife Tina green, gen­er­at­ing what was termed the ‘ f astest bil­lion in his­tory’.

He splashed some of his vast for­tune on a £46 mil­lion gulf­stream jet, and on the £ 100 mil­lion su­pery­acht Lion­heart where he was pic­tured this week — at 295ft-long, the ves­sel boasts a he­li­pad, swim­ming pool, three lifts, six lux­ury cab­ins and a crew of 40. WHen

i n Lon­don dur­ing his work­ing week at the helm of his re­tail em­pire, Sir Philip roosted for years in a lux­u­ri­ous suite in the five- star Dorch­ester ho­tel.

ev­ery Fri­day, he would fly in his jet to Monte Carlo, to spend the week­end with Tina, their yap­ping dogs and the rest of his fam­ily, bob­bing around on Lion­heart.

But now, the man who once be­strode the High Street like a squat colos­sus is l i ck­ing his wounds.

He has given up his op­u­lent rooms at the ho­tel that has been his base in the Uk cap­i­tal for more than a decade.

it was here, in the ho­tel on Park Lane, that he hosted his 65th birth­day party three years ago.

The shindig was, by his stan­dards at least, a muted af­fair for fam­ily and friends, over­shad­owed by the row over his sale of BHS.

not that he had any choice in leav­ing The Dorch­ester. The Covid lock­down meant re­tain­ing the suite in the ho­tel was no longer pos­si­ble. The virus, say friends, is also be­hind the po­ten­tial col­lapse of ar­ca­dia. They add that green is ‘hor­ri­bly sad’ about the sit­u­a­tion.

‘it has been a long jour­ney,’ said one. ‘The col­lapse is very much about Covid. When you have a lock­down of 500 stores for months, what else could you ex­pect?’

The once-swag­ger­ing mogul has told friends he will send a let­ter to ev­ery mem­ber of staff thank­ing them for all they have done for the com­pany and that he is ‘very hope­ful’ the busi­ness will find a buyer.

He also hopes ar­ca­dia’s pen­sion fund deficit will be cov­ered.

Wife Tina, the of­fi­cial owner of his re­tail in­ter­ests, has put in £50 mil­lion and com­mit­ted an­other £50 mil­lion. The fund has an ad­di­tional claim over £185 mil­lion of as­sets so he hopes the whole short­fall will be cov­ered.

as well as be­ing un­able to stay in

The Dorch­ester, green is said to have stood down his per­sonal se­cu­rity con­tin­gent. af­ter the col­lapse of BHS with the loss of 11,000 jobs, the guards were needed to shield him against ill-wish­ers.

The garages in Cam­den, north Lon­don, where he kept his fleet of lux­ury cars, have ap­par­ently been sold to de­vel­op­ers.

He and Lady green are also said to be dis­creetly sound­ing out buy­ers over a mag­nif­i­cent town­house she owns in Bel­gravia, one of Lon­don’s most ex­clu­sive en­claves.

She is be­lieved to have spent mil­lions ren­o­vat­ing the prop­erty, with plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions put in for l ow­er­ing the base­ment f l oor, in­stalling a glass roof and a new roof ter­race.

Could the col­lapse of ar­ca­dia, which is ex­pected to be con­firmed of­fi­cially next week, now drive the greens out of Bri­tain?

Friends say there is no ques­tion of him aban­don­ing his na­tive coun­try.

Yet in truth green, who re­tains his knight­hood de­spite calls to strip him of the hon­our, has spent very lit­tle time here for sev­eral years. He is no longer in­volved in the day- to- day run­ning of his trou­bled Uk fash­ion com­pa­nies and he and Tina are treated as so­cial pari­ahs by many.

On­THe last oc­ca­sion we spoke to him in per­son, he con­fided he had be­come a recluse and had been forced to hire a body­guard for Tina when she is in Lon­don.

af­ter be­ing be­rated in a res­tau­rant over BHS, he said: ‘i de­cided not to go out... it is dev­as­tat­ing. i don’t go any­where.’

Let’s not get the vi­o­lins out too quickly, though. He may not dine out much, but green is still a prac­ti­tioner of the foul-mouthed phone call. as re­cently as a cou­ple of days ago, he found time to bawl in­tim­i­dat­ing abuse at a col­league, over a few lines in an ar­ti­cle to which the f ash­ion mogul had taken ex­cep­tion.

The hum­bling of green is one of the most spec­tac­u­lar down­falls in Bri­tish busi­ness his­tory.

He and Tina are now re­sign­ing them­selves to life in a gilded cage aboard their float­ing gin palace.

Sources close to the cou­ple say the only Lon­don as­set they are keep­ing is the of­fice on ge­orge Street, the head­quar­ters of ar­gent, Tina’s in­te­rior de­sign com­pany.

Lady green is said to have told close friends that she has been shunned in the snootier quar­ters of so­ci­ety and is said to worry about her hus­band’s health af­ter years of heart trou­ble.

For now, the cou­ple will spend their time in Monaco and cruis­ing the Mediter­ranean. The sight of a portly green on deck, with a tanned bare chest look­ing for all the world like a bronzed ro­tis­serie chicken, is a fa­mil­iar one.

He and Tina swanned around the Med on the deck of his yacht in the fate­ful sum­mer of 2016 when BHS went un­der, with the pa­parazzi in hot pur­suit.

But it is not only parts of Lon­don that have been un­wel­com­ing. Friends say he has also been re­luc­tant to go to amer­ica, where he has a plush home within the grounds of an ex­pen­sive ari­zona health spa, af­ter he was ac­cused of s l ap­ping and grab­bing t he

but­tocks of a per­sonal trainer at the re­sort. Sir Philip stren­u­ously de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

A U.S. judge dis­missed the case against him for the al­leged grop­ing in Jan­uary, af­ter his ac­cuser, 38year- old Katie Sur­ridge, de­cided not to ap­pear in court.

That un­savoury episode may be be­hind him and his de­scent from the King Mi­das of the High Street may be cush­ioned by life in a balmy tax haven.

But the Greens’ busi­ness record leaves them in dan­ger of be­com­ing so­cially dis­tanced by the jet- set whose com­pany they sought for so many years.

Green him­self is no­to­ri­ously thin­skinned to those who dare ut­ter the slight­est crit­i­cism of him or his busi­ness meth­ods.

But it is likely to be Tina, who has been spied at the most ex­clu­sive Monaco par­ties, who feels the sting of os­tracism the most.

In hap­pier days, she hob­nobbed with the Mone­gasque royal fam­ily, film star Robert Red­ford and other VIPs at lav­ish char­ity din­ners in the prin­ci­pal­ity.

The Greens have a penthouse in the Le Ro­ca­bella build­ing on Av­enue Princesse Grace, one of the most ex­pen­sive streets in the world. Green is un­apolo­getic about his and Tina’s wealth and the pair dis­miss de­trac­tors as ‘jeal­ous’. Ar­ca­dia’s im­plo­sion has been a long time com­ing, but there is no doubt it is a bit­ter blow for Green. Of course, any pain felt by the Greens is as noth­ing com­pared with the shock and anger of Ar­ca­dia’s or­di­nary staff.

T He man­age­ment of the group were yes­ter­day in­sist­ing the pandemic was to blame for the com­pany’s dis­tress. Yet the busi­ness — like Green him­self — was look­ing like a spent force well be­fore the virus struck.

It had al­ready been put into a Com­pany Vol­un­tary Ar­range­ment, a form of in­sol­vency that al­lows a com­pany to carry on trad­ing in the hope of pulling i tself out of dif­fi­culty. As part of that, Green had put in place a £135mil­lion last-ditch plan to res­cue the busi­ness, where prof­its had al­ready plunged dra­mat­i­cally even be­fore the pandemic.

And de­spite re­as­sur­ances last year from Lady Green, there are still con­cerns about Ar­ca­dia’s pen­sion fund deficit of some £300mil­lion, given the his­tory with BHS.

But it is not just his busi­ness af­fairs that have come to grief — Sir Philip has had trou­ble in his per­sonal life, too.

There was 29-year-old daugh­ter Chloe’s split last year from ‘ hot felon’ Jeremy Meeks, 36. (One con­so­la­tion Green has en­joyed is the de­light he gets from their child, his f i r st grand­son, t wo- year- old Jay­den. ‘Jay­den is his main source of joy in a very dark mo­ment,’ said a friend.)

Green was also ac­cused this year of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and racism towards mem­bers of his staff.

The en­su­ing scan­dal led to the l oss of sev­eral f emale aides, in­clud­ing Kar­ren Brady, who had been chair­man of Ar­ca­dia’s ul­ti­mate par­ent com­pany.

Green de­nied ‘ any un­law­ful racist or sex­ist be­hav­iour’ and even­tu­ally aban­doned a fight to keep in place gag­ging or­ders over the al­le­ga­tions.

Who knows what Tina made of that, or what she will make of this lat­est dis­as­ter: what­ever the cou­ple’s tra­vails, they have al­ways at least seemed loyal to one an­other.

The pair will now have plenty of time to re­flect on their glory days from the deck of their yacht — days that are long gone.

The Ar­ca­dia fash­ion fief­dom is now likely to be snapped up at a bar­gain price by one of his ri­vals, such as Sports Di­rect owner Mike Ash­ley, who ad­mit­tedly has trou­bles of his own.

That would be quite a re­ver­sal, as Green has had a long-stand­ing friendly ri­valry with the younger Ash­ley. The pair call one an­other ‘Big emp’ and ‘Lit­tle emp’ — short for em­peror.

Green started of f as Big emp, but his power is rapidly shrink­ing. No mat­ter what his r emain­ing wealth, t his is a bit­ter blow to the pride of a man who be­gan his rol­lick­ing re­tail jour­ney when he took on his first shop in 1979 at 41 Con­duit Street, Lon­don.

The stock was bought at a rock bot­tom cost of 10p in the pound from a bank­rupt chain called Orig­inelle.

Now, it seems, the wheel is about to turn full cir­cle.

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 ??  ?? Feel­ing flat: Green lies down on board his yacht in Monaco as Ar­ca­dia heads towards ad­min­is­tra­tion
Feel­ing flat: Green lies down on board his yacht in Monaco as Ar­ca­dia heads towards ad­min­is­tra­tion

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