Sir Philip Green's CVA plan runs into trouble

Sir Philip Green Credit: PA

Sir Philip Green's plan to revive his Arcadia business is just a few hours old but it's already in trouble.

The Pensions Regulator has decided that the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) he has published doesn't pass muster.

"We do not consider the proposals are sufficient to ensure that members of the scheme are adequately protected," it stated tonight.

On the face of it Green's promise to pay £100 million of his family's money into the two schemes, which support 9,000 people, sounds generous.

But it simply offsets a reduction in contributions from the company itself.

The schemes, which are running a deficit of £750 million, are left no better off.

If the regulator is unimpressed then it's unthinkable that this will fly with the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), Arcadia's biggest creditor. Green will need to dig deeper.

Landlords too need persuading. A drop of like for like sales across the Arcadia group of 9% in 2018/19 suggests a company in distress.

Across all brands - Topshop, Topman, Burton, Evans, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Wallis - turnover has been heading south.

Green has limited stores closures in the UK and Ireland to 23 but landlords of 194 other stores are being asked to accept savage rent reductions of up 70%.

Green is promising to invest a further £50 million in the business; create a £40 million "compromised creditors fund" to compensate those landlords who are worst affected.

He's also promising landlords a 20% share of the spoils if and when a revived Arcadia is ever sold.

All the Topshop and Topman shops in the US will be closing. Credit: PA

Landlords may look at the Pension regulators stand and feel they too can squeeze more out of him.

These are proposals. 75% of Arcadia’s - landlords, banks, suppliers and the pension authorities - have to support them in a vote on June 5th.

If they don't, the CVA document says it's "highly likely" that Arcadia will enter "either insolvent administration or liquidation".

Arcadia's management team blames "highly challenging market conditions" for the business's problems.

The CVA proposal lists the shift online, ferocious competition and discounting, business rates, the national living wage and the weakness of the pound.

Dorothy Perkins and Burton are some of the shops facing closure. Credit: PA

Fair enough. But everyone else has to play in these conditions and a great many others are doing better than Arcadia.

In the last few years Arcadia has been overtaken by Primark and lost ground to the likes of Boo Hoo, Pretty Little Thing, Zara, H&M.

Analysts point to underinvestment. The brands have lost their magic, The King has lost his touch and his kingdom sits on the edge of insolvency.