British retailer Arcadia Group, owner of Topshop, files for bankruptcy.


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Arcadia Group, the British retail company owned by Philip Green that includes the Topshop clothing chain, has gone into administration, a form of bankruptcy, the company said Monday. It is one of the biggest retail collapses in Britain since the start of the pandemic.

Deloitte has been appointed as the administrator. Arcadia, which has 444 stores in Britain, 22 overseas and about 13,000 employees, said it would keep operating during administration.

Ian Grabiner, the chief executive of the group, said in a statement that he had hoped the company could “ride out” the pandemic. “Ultimately, however, in the face of the most difficult trading conditions we have ever experienced, the obstacles we encountered were far too severe,” he added.

No layoffs were announced Monday, but it remained unclear how many jobs could be saved as the administrator deals with the group’s finances.

Arcadia was reportedly seeking a £30 million ($40 million) lifeline, but on Monday the Fraser Group, a retail chain owned by a rival businessman, Mike Ashley, said its offer of a £50 million loan was rejected.

On Friday, Arcadia said lockdowns to curb the spread of coronavirus have had a “material impact” on its business. In recent years, the company has struggled to keep up with fast-fashion online rivals, and its dependency on physical stores has been a disadvantage as the virus has sped up the long-running demise of the British high street.

Earlier this month, during a lockdown period when nonessential stores were forced to close in England, foot traffic on British commercial areas was down 60 percent compared with last year, according to data from Springboard. Since February, online retail sales have grown 45 percent in Britain, while clothing sales — online and in-person — have declined 14 percent, the Office for National Statistics said earlier this month.

Last year, Arcadia entered into a company voluntary arrangement, a type of agreement insolvent companies can come to with creditors and keep operating. It closed more than 80 stores and renegotiated rents of others. It also filed for bankruptcy in the United States and closed all of its stores there.

The collapse of Arcadia is a new low in the career of Mr. Green, who was once deemed the “king of the high street” but has recently been the subject of allegations of racial and sexual harassment. He lives in Monaco, is frequently photographed aboard his 295-foot-long yacht, and used to commute to London in his private jet.

In 2006, Mr. Green was knighted for “services to the retail industry.” But Mr. Green’s reputation was hurt after he sold BHS, a department store chain founded in 1928, for £1 in 2015 and the company collapsed a year later with a pension deficit of £571 million. It prompted a parliamentary investigation, and in 2017 Mr. Green agreed to pay £363 million into the pension scheme.


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