Most of his rivals would be grinning from ear-to-ear if their company managed a double digit rise in profits in current market conditions, but not Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green. Despite posting a 13% rise in profits, the billionaire owner of the group was decidedly bearish when quizzed on the UK’s recovery prospects. Maybe he’s just a ‘glass half empty’ kind of guy…
Across the group, like-for-like sales across the UK remained fairly flat, although Arcadia managed to turn a full-year pre-tax profit of £213.6m, compared with the £188.9m it made a year ago. The group continues to be buoyed by its affordable high-fashion brands Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge. The general populace may have cut back on new clothes, but the UK’s young fashionistas continue to hit the high street – much to the relief of Green and co.
Arcadia has also managed to repay some of its debts: at the year end, it stood at £535.8m, down £159.3m from £695.1m last year. Helped no doubt by the fact that Green is once again not paying himself a dividend. But considering the last one - in 2005, paid to Green’s wife Tina – was for almost £1.2bn, he’s probably got enough left to get by on.
Yet, despite the encouraging results, Sir Philip remained reserved as he described ‘one of the most challenging retail landscapes I’ve ever seen’. He urged caution, warning that 2010 will be another tough year for the corporate sector and expressed concern about the recent stockmarket rally – ironically on a morning where shares fell sharply in early morning trading.
Green is a born retailer and it’s clear form his sober mood that the current environment doesn’t suit him. Yes, he is prepared to generate more profit by the rather soulless expedient of cutting costs, but it seems he’d much prefer to be forging ahead with real organic growth.
It is also instructive to compare his attitude towards his own business with that of the bankers who are getting so much attention elsewhere at the moment. Green is clearly not a retiring individual, nor one un-interested in material gain. And yet his approach to his own remuneration and his concern for the wellbeing of his firm and his industry is positively nurturing by comparison with the attitudes of City types.
Good on you, Sir Philip. You may not mean to, but you're setting a good example. Keep it up.
In today's bulletin:
Mandy gets it in the neck as Royal Mail goes postal
Green downbeat despite 13% more profit at Arcadia
Obama cuts pay of bailed-out bosses - will UK follow suit?
Disney to kill the DVD? You must be taking the Mickey
Older workers not ready to hit the beach yet, says report