Philip GreenOwner Arcadia and Bhs
There’s rarely a dull moment in the life of the flamboyant billionaire, but even by his standards the past 12 months have been action-packed. While others have laboured in the downturn, Green – with the security of his huge cash pile and private ownership of his businesses – has appeared almost to relish the intellectual challenge that the recession poses.
His highlight was the debut of Topshop in New York and despite seemingly endless delays to its opening, when it finally happened it was a triumph. While US retailers have been dropping like ninepins, the UK arrival has held shoppers in the Big Apple in its thrall. The move, and the continued backing of Kate Moss, has confirmed Topshop as a truly global brand.
At home the picture hasn’t been quite as clear- cut. While Arcadia’s young-fashion chains, notably Topman, have performed strongly in the face of the recession, its more mature brands have done less well and Bhs has continued to struggle. Green’s decision to merge Bhs into Arcadia was considered overdue by some and is already leading to improved efficiencies. Suppliers are already experiencing terms being unified, while the merger could also lead to some interesting manoeuvres on the property side.
While he shies away from joining the BRC, Green has been doing his bit for the wider industry. His Fashion Retail Academy in London continues to prosper, while last summer, working in concert with fellow Phils – Harris and Wrigley – he took on the landlords over the long-standing issue of quarterly in advance rental payments.
It wasn’t a move without self-interest – with eight chains on the high street Green is more exposed than anyone to the leasehold property market – but the campaign he brilliantly marshalled caught the property industry napping while it was on its summer holidays.
While no one could argue that victory over the landlords has been achieved, there’s no doubting the campaign has achieved genuine change, with monthly rent payments becoming far more common.