Green takes Topshop across the pond

The recession hasn't deterred entrepreneur Philip Green from pursuing his latest venture, Topshop USA.

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Last Updated: 27 Oct 2014

The Arcadia boss bucked the belt-tightening trend to launch the flagship New York store earlier this week. It’s a classic tale of persistence rewarded. It’s taken a fire, a flood, a seven-month delay and $20m in investment, but Green has finally marched the fashion brand across the Atlantic – with Kate Moss and denim hotpants in tow, of course.

If she is as popular over there as she is here, New York should go wild. Just cast your mind back to how excited London’s shoppers got when Croydon’s most famous daughter launched her eagerly-anticipated Topshop collection here, two years ago.

As for the irrepressible Green, he’s clearly pretty chuffed with his latest efforts. Particularly with the lavish opening bash and with the restoration of the four-storey building in lower Manhattan which houses the store. Even the hard-bitten US fashion crowd seemed impressed, dubbing it 'the Moss and boss show'.

Taking on one of the hardest retail markets in the world, in the teeth of the worst recession for years, is classic Green. It’s hard not to admire his buccaneering spirit, and the fact that so many other successful British retailers have struggled in the States will only make him more determined to succeed. But it’s a massive chance to be taking in the current climate, even so. Failure would not only be expensive, it would be humiliating. 

The potential stumbling blocks are legion. For a start, he’s entering the US market at a time when customers are reining back spending and clothing sales are in decline across the board. And back home things aren’t going much better  - Green himself has admitted that trading on the UK high street is as tough as he’s ever seen it, although Arcadia itself is performing robustly enough.

Of course one of Green’s great strengths is that he is his own boss and can make investments which firms with shareholders to consider would run a mile from.  ‘Could we make an investment tonight of $1bn? Yes, we could. We are well financed’ he told one party-goer. 

If all goes to plan, Green could find himself as the toast of the New York fashion scene, a prize which he would doubtless say was worth taking a chance on. Good luck, Philip.

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