Philip Green's reputation as a retail wizard soared on the back of his turnaround of ailing Bhs and success with Arcadia.
Green's skills are grounded in tangible retail basics, such as sourcing, merchandising and product. Intake margins at Arcadia are understood to have improved by 3 per cent under his tutelage, while gross margins leapt 12 per cent at Bhs.
One former Arcadia director said Green's approach was simple, but effective.
'He took a very measured and detailed look at the business. He got the merchants to focus on product, quality and price.'
Following the£850 million takeover of Arcadia in 2002, Green stripped out a management level and handed brand directors accountability for marketing and financials.
He generated£230 million from refinancing property and used his negotiating skills to increase supplier discounts. At the end of his first year, Arcadia's operating profit nearly doubled to£227.9 million.
Reviving Bhs was different. 'Bhs used to buy through wholesalers, so he eliminated them and went straight to the suppliers,' said Retail Knowledge Bank director Robert Clark. 'That's how he made it profitable so quickly.'