Arcadia and Debenhams: Latest high street failures put 25,000 jobs on the line

Credit: PA

An already beleaguered high street has been hit hard by the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group and the imminent closure of Debenhams.

For staff working in a sector that has suffered through the Covid crisis, the bleak forecast puts another 25,000 jobs at risk.

Some 13,000 staff under the Arcadia umbrella face an anxious wait following the business collapsing into administration.

While 12,00 staff face losing their jobs at Debenhams stores around the country after rescue talks failed to save the struggling department chain.

What is set to close and whose job is at risk?

Arcadia’s brands, which includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton, have hired Deloitte to handle the next steps after the Covid pandemic “severely impacted” upon sales.

The company runs 444 stores in the UK and 22 overseas.

Sir Philip Green's empire was, however, struggling before the lockdown.

Sir Philip Green Credit: Isabel Infantes/PA

ITV News' Business and Economics Editor Joel Hill points to struggling sale figures well in advance of the coronavirus crisis.

Arcadia’s staff working at its brands’ concessions in Debenhams face an uncertain future too.

With JD Sports walking away from take over talks, the high street stalwart has announced plans to start winding down its operations.

It is a further blow to Arcadia's 9,294 employees currently on furlough.

No redundancies have been announced as a result of the appointment so far.

What if my job is at risk?

Ian Grabiner, chief executive of Arcadia, described it as "an incredibly sad day for all of our colleagues as well as our suppliers and our many other stakeholders".

"Throughout this immensely challenging time our priority has been to protect jobs and preserve the financial stability of the group in the hope that we could ride out the pandemic and come out fighting on the other side.

"Ultimately, however, in the face of the most difficult trading conditions we have ever experienced, the obstacles we encountered were far too severe."

JD Sports had been widely considered Debenhams’ best chance of a rescue deal Credit: Nick Ansell/PA

Retail trade union Usdaw has said it is seeking urgent meetings with Arcadia’s administrators in a bid to preserve jobs.

Dave Gill, Usdaw national officer, said "it is crucial that the voice of staff is heard over the future of the business".

The group said it needed "assurances on what efforts are being made to save jobs, the plan for stores to continue trading and the funding of the pension scheme.".

Is my pension at risk?

MPs have called on Sir Philip to cover a shortfall in the pension scheme and urged the pension watchdog to fight on behalf of the group’s workers.

Stephen Timms, the head of the Work and Pensions Committee, called on the tycoon to stump up funds as he urged the Pensions Regulator watchdog to protect pension scheme members.

Sir Philip Green Credit: Ian West/PA

Mr Timms called on the Green family to use their personal wealth to cover the shortfall.

A spokesman for The Pensions Regulator said: “We are aware of the challenges that the business is currently facing in these unprecedented times and we continue to work with the directors, the trustees and their respective advisers, as well as the PPF, to protect the position of the Arcadia pension schemes’ members to the fullest extent possible.”

Stephen Timms, chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, called on Sir Philip to stump up funds to fill the pensions black hole, which is estimated to be as large as £350 million.

Retailers like New Look and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group say they are struggling to pay rent. Credit: PA

What next for Arcadia?

The administrators said they will be "assessing all options available", which could see Arcadia's brands sold off in separate rescue deals.

The group will continue to honour all online orders made over the Black Friday weekend and will continue to operate all of its current sales channels.

Debenhams stores will continue to trade online and in store to clear stock - with many sites set to reopen on Wednesday when England's lockdown ends.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said he would be keeping a "very close eye" on the administrators' report on director conduct.

Mr Sharma pledged the government would support the affected workers.