Arcadia group administration would be ‘devastating’ blow to high streets

A man walks past the Topshop flagship store at Oxford Circus, London, part of the Arcadia Group. Picture: KIRSTY...

A man walks past the Topshop flagship store at Oxford Circus, London, part of the Arcadia Group. Picture: KIRSTY O'CONNOR/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

The Arcadia group slipping into administration could be a “devastating” blow to high streets across the region, according to town leaders.

It was reported yesterday that the group, which is owned by Sir Philip Green, is expected to appoint administrators from Deloitte in the coming days.

The chain, which owns brands including Dorothy Perkins and Topman, employs 15,000 staff – including at outlets in Suffolk and north Essex

A spokesman for the group said they were “working on a number of contingency options” after Covid-19 forced the closure of their stores.

The spokesman added that the group’s brands continue to trade and the stores would reopen next week when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

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With the future of the brand up in the air, what will happen to its stores is by no means certain.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, said the impact of the company’s rumoured administration would “depend on whether the company is sold on or not”.

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“We’re not immune,” he said. “Topman and Topshop is the only Arcadia store still in the town but it does take up a big unit in the Arc.

“We’d be hopeful that it might be bought on as one of the more profitable stores.”

But Mr Cordell fears Arcadia could be the first of several large chains to collapse.

“It would be naive to think it will be the only one,” he said.

Paul Clement, of Ipswich Central BID, said: “If the stores were to close completely it would mean job losses in every town and city in the UK. It would be a devastating blow to every high street in the country.

“So the priority here is the 15,000 or so employees.”

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Mr Clement said he does not know how the group going into administration will affect the town centre.

“They have a presence here but any administration would likely try and keep the stores open and trading,” he said.

“Overall the degree which this crisis is damaging will depend on how many chains fail.

“But it does show how much this is affecting established and successful retail brands.”

Sam Good, Colchester BID manager, said: “It is clear that our high streets are facing a fight against the inequality between online trading and bricks and mortar trading.

“We need the government to look into this inequality and level the playing field in order for town and city centres in their current state to survive, otherwise we are going to see additional CVAs and more struggling businesses.

“We thoroughly hope that Arcadia and its brands can hold on and have a positive Christmas trading period from the December 2 which may be enough to get through.”