Belfast Telegraph

Business Minister offers reassurances as questions surround Philip Green's retail empire

Uncertainty: Sir Philip Green
Uncertainty: Sir Philip Green

By Richard Wheeler

Ministers "stand ready to do what we can" to deal with any potential job losses connected to Sir Philip Green's retail empire.

Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst sought to reassure MPs as they await news of the Topshop tycoon's restructuring plans today.

Arcadia employs 18,000 people, all of whom could face redundancy if it collapses.

It has 78 outlets in Northern Ireland, made up of Topshop, Burton, Evans, Wallis, Outfit, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins stores.

The figure includes both stand-alone stores and the many concessions which Arcadia operates within independent fashion outlets, including Menarys and Ulster Stores.

Arcadia has been locked in negotiations with landlords as it seeks agreement on company voluntary arrangements (CVAs).

Speaking in the Commons, Labour's Jenny Chapman said: "Yesterday I spoke to the chief executive of Arcadia group about the Topshop, Topman and Dorothy Perkins stores in Darlington. Tomorrow there is a CVA meeting where we could be seeing the loss of 18,000 jobs nationwide.

"What is the Government going to do - I know they can't intervene in the process - to protect individuals who could be affected by this decision?"

Ms Tolhurst replied: "(Ms Chapman) raises an important point about the viability of some of the retail outlets operating on our high street and she is quite right that it is concerning when we're looking at any kind of closures of our retail names on our high street."

Belfast Telegraph