Sir Philip Green’s retail empire Arcadia has said it is taking “all appropriate steps” to mitigate the impact of a second lockdown and hit back at claims it is about to enter into administration.
The second lockdown in England comes at a precarious time as retailers prepared for the Christmas period hoping to salvage the effects of enforced closures this year.
Like other retailers Arcadia, which owns Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, has been hit by store closures due to new restrictions in addition to shifting consumer habits.
Arcadia’s stores in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are open but the bulk of its more than 500 sites remain closed due to lockdown in England. Further restrictions are a big blow to the retail company which has a smaller online footprint than its peers, relying on brick-and-mortar stores.
Green has furloughed more than 14,000 staff, relying on government support, while also considering a string of set sales to raise funds. In September reports suggested Green had put Burton’s former London headquarters up for sale.
Arcadia denied a report by the Sunday Times that it was on the brink of administration but did not respond to questions about further job cuts.
“It is not true that administrators are about to be appointed,” a spokesperson said. “Clearly, the second UK lockdown presents a further challenge for all retailers and we are taking all appropriate steps to protect our employees and other stakeholders from its consequences.”
Arcadia’s difficulties come just 18 months after it narrowly avoided collapse by securing a company voluntary arrangement that led to 1,000 job cuts and 50 store closures.
The retail group has also reportedly approached lenders about borrowing money to prop up its business due to the impact of the pandemi. Arcadia did not dispute a report by Sky News over the weekend that it was seeking £30m of additional funding from its lenders.
The pandemic has compounded the British high street’s issues this year, with New Look implementing another financial restructuring and Edinburgh Woolen Mill falling into administration last week.