Another 15,000 retailing jobs in Britain are in peril after Arcadia Group, owner of some the country’s best-known fashion chains like Topshop, confirmed Friday that it is in talks about its future.
Amid mounting speculation that the retail empire of Philip Green is set to collapse into a form of bankruptcy protection, the company said in a statement that it is working on “contingency options to secure the future of the group’s brands.”
Like others in the sector, Arcadia’s brands, which also include Burton, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, have suffered during the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictions across the UK, including two national lockdowns in England.
Competition has increased from low-cost rivals like Primark, as well as from online disruptors such as ASOS. Critics have also said that Green has not invested enough in the businesses over the past few years.
In its statement, the group said the forced “closure of our stores for sustained periods as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a material impact on trading across our businesses.”
It stressed that its brands “continue to trade” and that its stores will be opening again in England as soon as coronavirus restrictions are lifted next week.
England is in a four-week lockdown that has forced the closure of all shops selling items deemed to be non-essential. The lockdown expires on Dec. 2 and shops will be allowed to reopen. The other nations of the UK — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have taken slightly different approaches but all have at various stages reimposed restrictions that closed non-essential shops.
Arcadia has reportedly been in emergency talks with lenders in a bid to secure a 30 million-pound ($40 billion) loan to help shore up its finances.
If it goes into so-called administration as soon as next week, there is likely to be a scramble among creditors to get control of company assets.
It is the latest retailer to have been hammered by the closure of stores in the face of the coronavirus, with rivals in Britain including Debenhams, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group and Oasis Warehouse all sliding into insolvency since the pandemic struck in March.