British retail tycoon Philip Green’s Arcadia Group said on Wednesday (22 May) it planned to close 23 of its 566 stores in the UK and Ireland in a major restructuring of the fashion business that could also see its Topshop/Topman stores close in the US.
Arcadia, which also runs fashion retailers Wallis, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Burton and Outfit, said it had instigated seven Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs), mechanisms that allow the business to avoid insolvency.
A string of British store groups have either gone out of business or announced plans to close shops over the last two years as they struggle with subdued consumer spending, rising labour costs, higher business property taxes and growing online competition.
CVAs have been adopted by UK retailers including fashion chain New Look, floor coverings group Carpetright, mother-and-baby goods firm Mothercare and department store Debenhams.
Under the proposals, which will require creditor approval, Arcadia is also requesting a reduction in rental costs and revised lease terms across 194 other UK and Ireland locations.
The sites which have been identified for potential closure employ 520 people.
Arcadia has also commenced a process which may result in the closure of all 11 of its Topshop/Topman stores in the United States. It will however continue to supply wholesale partners in the US and maintain a digital platform.
As part of the CVA proposals Philip Green’s wife Tina, the group’s shareholder, will invest a further £50 million of equity into Arcadia to support its turnaround.
Tina Green will also provide affected landlords with an entitlement to a pro-rata share of 20% of any equity value in Arcadia if it is sold in the future. Landlords can also claim from a £40 million compromised creditor fund.
The restructuring will also see Arcadia reduce contributions to its two largest pensions schemes from £50 million to £25 million per year for three years, with security over certain assets also being granted.
Tina Green has offered to bridge the pension schemes’ shortfall with funding of £25 million per year for the next three years, plus an additional £25 million contribution, resulting in total payments into the schemes of £100 million.
Arcadia is seeking creditor approval on the proposals at meetings on June 5.