Retail news round-up: Green's assets may be seized and Austin Reed to return to high street.

MPs ask if Sir Philip Green’s assets can be seized

Chairman of Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee Frank Field has written to Pensions Regulator chief executive Lesley Titcomb to ask if assets owned by Sir Philip Green could be seized to pay the pensions of thousands of BHS workers, The Telegraph reported.

In the letter he has asked to clarify whether the regulator had power to acquire “assets other than cash” from the person or company from which payment is being sought.

It would include the yacht and assets of Green’s wife who owns nearly £2bn of the family retail business.

The letter, made public last night, also asked whether the regulator can pursue a person or company registered offshore.

Titcomb is to appear before the Work and Pensions Committee today to answer questions on how the regulator’s powers can be used.

The pension scheme has also expanded its examinations on Green’s business empire, demanding Arcadia to provide information on the pension scheme.

Arcadia has a pension deficit of £151m for the year to the end of August 2015.

Austin Reed to make high street comeback

Philip Day, who bought the Austin Reed brand in April, will announce plans today to open 50 stores by early 2018 in a £100m investment programme, The Times reported.

He is also in talks to buy a property “somewhere between Oxford Street and Regent Street” for £68m, which would be converted into an Austin Reed store and open by next summer.

The company collapsed into administration seven months ago with the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs following operational and cashflow problems.

Austin Reed, Country Casuals and Viyella brands were bought by Edinburgh Woollen Mill group during the administration process.

Mr Day said: “I come from a working-class background and have always admired Austin Reed — it is an incredible heritage brand but it had lost contact with who its customer was. I jumped in [and bought it] as I felt that if it was run properly with the right kind of capital investment it would work.”

Similarly, Morrisons is developing a range of hundreds of convenience products, branded Safeway, which will be sold to independent retailers in the UK from early next year.