Topshop tycoon says retail must raise its game

Kasmira Jefford
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ARCADIA yesterday posted a 25 per cent surge in profits as its billionaire owner Sir Philip Green told retailers to stop moaning about the economic downturn and get on with it.

“We’ve got to trade. I can’t keep listening to all these people making it up as they go along,” Green said yesterday at his flagship Topshop store on London’s Oxford Street.

He said with 45,000 staff and a £500m payroll “we have got to make it work”. Just as consumers have had to tighten their purse strings, so retailers have to refine their business models.

“We’ve got to up our game. If we sit there and cry and put on my front window the Bank of England said X, it isn’t going to help me take any money,” he said.

Green’s comments were made as the Arcadia empire, which owns some of the UK’s most recognisable brands including Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and BHS, reported a pre-tax profit before one-off items of £166.9m for the year to 25 August. But total sales across its 2,500 UK stores and 615 international outlets were flat at £2.68bn. Like-for-like sales fell 3.2 per cent in the UK due to challenging conditions on the high street.

Internet sales grew by 22 per cent in the period compared with the previous year while its overseas online business increased by 33 per cent.

Green said the group had invested £79.2m into the business over the course of the year, taking its total investment to over £1bn since he bought the group in October 2002.

Arcadia, which also runs Topman, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Evans brands, is one of the country’s biggest private employers. It also has 615 franchised outlets in 39 countries.

Commenting on future acquisitions Green said: “There’s sort of two or three things in my head. If they ever turned up, we’d have to look at them.”

He added that “Arcadia would want to have a seat at the table” if there was any major consolidation in the market place.