Belfast Telegraph

Topshop appoints new chief executive in bid to halt falling profits

Sir Philip Green has appointed a new chief executive at Topshop as part of efforts to arrest falling sales and profits at his retail empire.

The tycoon has drafted in Paul Price, currently chief merchandising officer at Burberry, following a difficult period for his Arcadia group, which also houses the likes of Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Burton.

Operating profit at Taveta Investments, which owns Arcadia, slumped 16.5% to £211.2 million last year as the group flagged "major change" in the retail sector, adding that clothing has become a "less important part of the household budget".

Taking into account exceptional costs, pre-tax profit plummeted from £172.2 million to £36.8 million and s ales at dropped 2.5% to just over £2 billion in the period, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

As well as taking charge of the UK operations of Topshop and Topman, Mr Price, who has had stints at Lucky Brand Jeans, Williams Sonoma and Banana Republic, will spearhead the chain's global expansion.

Sir Philip said: "I believe Paul will be a great catalyst in leading the next phase of Topshop and Topman's global expansion."

In December, the billionaire pushed the button on expanding Topshop in China, signing a deal to roll out stores across the country.

US private equity firm Leonard Green holds a 25% stake in Topshop, which is snapped up in 2012.

Mr Price's appointment comes days after Sir Philip named Baroness Karren Brady as the chairman of Taveta, who takes over the role from Lord Grabiner.

Lord Grabiner, a prominent QC, spent 15 years leading the Taveta board, which came under fire from MPs for providing "weak" corporate governance that contributed "substantially" to the demise of BHS.

The department store chain plunged into administration last year, impacting 11,000 jobs and around 19,000 pension-holders, leaving a £571 million pension deficit.

After a drawn-out saga that included a parliamentary inquiry and public outcry over Sir Philip's conduct, the tycoon agreed to pay £363 million to settle the BHS pension scheme in February.

The Topshop owner was grilled by MPs over the sale of the chain, which he owned for 15 years before offloading it for £1 to formerly bankrupt Dominic Chappell in 2015.