Philip Green’s Arcadia Group collapses into administration

More than 13,000 jobs at risk in biggest UK corporate failure of the Covid pandemic

Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group has collapsed into administration, putting 13,000 jobs at risk as the retail tycoon’s high street career ends in failure.

The owner of household names including Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Evans and Burton appointed administrators from Deloitte on Monday.

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Author: Sarah Butler and Joanna Partridge

Topshop is a casualty of Covid’s Darwinian culling of retailers

Arcadia Group, the retail empire of British tycoon Philip Green and parent company of fashion chain Topshop, is on the verge of crumbling. The UK group is poised to enter administration, the British equivalent of bankruptcy, a senior source at the company told the BBC, creating a dire situation for some 13,000 workers whose jobs are at risk.

The immediate culprit is Covid-19, which has shut stores and battered fashion sales in the UK. Earlier this year, Arcadia was forced to furlough staff (paywall) and slash executive pay. The disruptions have continued as new cases surged and England entered a second lockdown on Nov. 5. “You don’t know when you’ll be open, you don’t know what stock to buy,” the source told the BBC.

But the pandemic put pressure on a structure that was already cracking. It’s a common theme at this point. In the US, for example, numerous companies including J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, and Brooks Brothers have filed for bankruptcy protection due to Covid-19, but prior to the pandemic all had struggled to adjust to a retail landscape being reshaped by changing shopper preferences and e-commerce. Arcadia, once a mighty business that dominated the British high street with brands such as Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, and Dorothy Perkins, has been similarly floundering. The culling of weak retailers due to Covid-19 that was predicted by experts is now playing out.

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Author: Marc Bain

The complexity and brilliance of Tony Hsieh: a personal appreciation

When is the right time to assess a founder’s legacy? If we had assessed Mark Zuckerberg’s impact on the world five years ago, it would have looked much different than today. And if we were to assess Zuckerberg’s impact in yet another five, ten, or twenty years, it again could look very different. What if the coda to Jeff Bezos’s story had been that time he built an online bookstore? Instead, investors and the public gave Bezos time to build out his much grander vision, and because of that Amazon was able to acquire, among many other businesses, the online shoe retailer Zappos for $1.2 billion in 2009.

Bezos loved Zappos’s obsession with customer service, and as part of the deal he gave CEO Tony Hsieh the freedom to run with bold management experiments that would leave other CEOs shaking in their boots. Bezos clearly recognized Hsieh’s once-in-a-generation creative genius and didn’t interfere when the Zappos executive relocated his company from a pristine suburban office park to a blighted part of downtown Las Vegas, investing his windfall from the Amazon sale in order to revitalize the area and create a startup ecosystem. Hsieh wanted to create a microcosm of Silicon Valley that was infused with the ethos of Burning Man. Embracing the principles of startup culture, Hsieh sought to do this in a highly accelerated time frame of five years.

I was so captivated by Hsieh’s vision that I upended my life in New York and decamped to Las Vegas to write a book about the project. My publisher also embraced the startup ethos with my book and we decided to publish it right at the five-year mark. It made sense from a marketing standpoint to publish the manuscript when there was mass interest in the experiment, but in hindsight it was too soon. The Downtown Project was still responding to myriad challenges and startup failures, and the general assessment of its impact was mixed at best. Its impact compounded over a longer time horizon, however, will tell a much different story.

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Author: Aimee Groth