‘Would you mind not looking at me like that all the time? It’s really disturbing.’
As Sir Philip Green sneered at Conservative MP Richard Fuller during his grilling by the Business Innovation and Skills Committee Inquiry into his sale of BHS in 2016, you would be forgiven for thinking that the retail mogul rather disliked being the centre of attention.
But somehow the spotlight keeps following him.
If the reports are to be believed, the once dubbed retail king might be about to abdicate his throne and retire to Monaco as it is rumoured that he is in talks to sell the majority of his Acadia Group (owner of Topman, Burton and Dorothy Perkins to name a few) to the Chinese textile giant Shandong Ruyi.
But rather than a peaceful sail off into the sunset, this looks to be a case of abandoning a sinking ship.The Arcadia group has a sizeable pension deficit believed to total nearly £1bn and the growing failure of high street brands to compete with online rivals looks to have Green cutting his losses.
The details have not yet been revealed, but already the deal is subject to scrutiny and Green’s old nemesis Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, has written to the Pensions Regulator and Arcadia asking them to protect workers pensions.
There’s a humble entrepreneurial romance to Philip Green’s past - a man who left boarding school at 16 to start a career in retail, honing his skills through five years of hard work before going at it alone, selling shoes to shops.
But this is not how he will be remembered. Like much of his retail empire, the Green brand has lost its edge.The brash, indefatigable, lovable rogue of yesteryear is gone. His legacy will instead consist of pension schemes, select committees and tax avoidance.
Is this the end?
But can we really believe this is the end of Green’s nearly four-decade hold of the retail world? Yes the three yachts, soirée with supermodels and a mansion in Monaco sounds enough to keep any retiree busy.
Green has himself announced that there is no truth to the claims - but there is rarely smoke without fire. We'll just have to see how this one plays out.
For a man who was described in a 2005 MT interview as ‘forever wound up, taut like a spring. He wouldn't dream of letting go on the golf course or curling up with a good book. His idea of relaxation is to play the tables at the casino, to carry on chasing the money’, it's hard to see him completely cashing his pension in just yet.
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