Pensions support ahead of meeting
Green deal on brink as CVA talks with landlords stall
Brands such as Topshop await today’s verdict
Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group was left hanging in the balance after a crucial meeting with creditors was adjourned for a week as landlords initially rejected his rescue plan.
Landlords of the troubled group’s stores, which include Topshop and Miss Selfridge, were due to vote on a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).
Intu Properties, the shopping mall owner and one of Arcadia’s biggest landlords, was expected to vote against the restructuring, according to Sky News.
Earlier, Sir Philip secured the backing of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) after striking a £385m deal to secure the group’s pension schemes, including a £100m contribution from Lady Cristina Green, Sir Philip’s wife and Arcadia’s largest shareholder. The PPF said it would vote in support of Arcadia’s restructure.
Oliver Morley, chief executive of the PPF, said: “We are pleased that the company and shareholder have agreed a funding and security package for the scheme. Based on this commitment, we will now vote in support of the Arcadia Group Limited CVA.”
A deal would see rents cut at Arcadia’s stores, which also include Burtons, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis, though sources say Topshop is in a stronger position than some of the other brands.
Arcadia’s adviser Deloitte has drawn up papers to put the troubled group’s high street retail brands into administration should its cost-cutting proposals not gain support from creditors.
The meeting took place as a group of MPs, trade unions and figures in the retail trade attended the parliamentary to launch an industrial strategy for the sector. The shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is proposing a change in the economic framework on everything from car parking to rates, rents and reforming the tax system to create a level playing field between online and ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers.
It comes amid warnings from the British Retail Consortium that more shops will close and new figures showing sales falling.
Any changes agreed would put pressure on the Scottish government to follow suit. Retail leaders north of the border have focused on calls to reduce business rates and bring the large business rate supplement into line with England.
Those speaking at today’s parliamentary launch included:
- Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium
- John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Alison Phillips, Mirror Editor – ‘High Street Fightback’ campaign
- Bill Grimsey, businessman and retail expert
Also attending were representatives from: Poundland UK and Ireland; Resolution Foundation; Co-op Group; RSA; Ocado; TUC; Fabian Society; John Lewis partnership; Institute for the Future of Work; Co-operative Party; Living Wage Foundation; Institute of Employment Rights; Tesco; Morrisons; Association of Convenience Stores, along with Members of Parliament from all parties.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said: “We are joining with the retail employers who are calling for a number of key measures to tackle the crisis on our high streets, including a reform of business rates to help level the playing field between online and ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers.
“This is not about favours from Government, it’s about fairness across all forms of retailing. We need national and local government, unions and employers to work together to effectively tackle the current crisis.
“The retail sector is experiencing turbulent and challenging times. Employing around three million people it contributes 11% to the UK economic output; so it is clear that the challenges affecting the retail sector have a huge knock on effect, impacting the UK economy and a significant number of workers.
“We need from the Government a clear and coherent strategy for the retail sector, to address the worries and concerns of retail workers and our members. We hope this launch and Usdaw’s retail strategy will be a catalyst for a combined and concerted effort to tackle the growing retail crisis and save our shops”.”