Former PM Tony Blair joined top retailers including Arcadia tycoon Sir Philip Green to celebrate Fashion Retail Academy’s 10th anniversary.

Lord Stuart Rose, Tony Blair, Sir Philip Green and Marc Bolland at the Fashion Retail Academy event

As Prime Minister Blair was a supporter of the creation of the academy, spearheaded by Green, and formally opened it.

He returned last night, when the 10th birthday was marked at the shopkeeping school’s annual awards.

Blair said: “When Sir Philip came to meet me at Number 10 to discuss his vision he wanted to create something that was not a school but an academy.

“Somewhere that valued and taught to the best degree and maximised young people’s potential.

“Our country is a leader in design and creativity and the Fashion Retail Academy has helped nurture its students and excite them about future possibilities.”

Industry support

The academy was backed at launch by founding partners Marks & Spencer, Next and Tesco, as well as Arcadia, and data firm Experian. Today it is supported by more than 100 retailers.

Retail leaders including former M&S boss Lord Rose and his successor Marc Bolland, Harrods chief executive Michael Ward, Tesco commercial director Jason Tarry and founder Mahmud Kamani were all at last night’s event.

Green said: “Ten years have gone by in a flash and I would like to thank the founding partners for helping me bring my vision to life.

“We have been fortunate to have been able to provide endless opportunities and are very proud our 90% employment rate over 10 years for our level-four students.”

Green chose the occasion to launch a £100,000 seed capital fund to provide backing for students with good ideas for starting their own businesses.

Sir Philip Green interview

Retail Week spoke with Sir Philip Green at the event. Watch the Arcadia boss talk about the FRA, lift etiquette and more here.