The owner of Arcadia, Sir Philip Green, has called for a “truce” with Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field, after dismissing rumours about the sale of his company to Chinese fashion group, Shandong Ruyi.
Responding to a letter by Field sent on 19 February 2018, Green rubbished The Sunday Times report of the sale of Arcadia, adding the “newspapers like to make it up as they go along”.
Furthermore, Green goaded the Committee chair over his “love” of his press profile on the back of their spat and said “the time has come for this to stop”.
In his letter, Green said: “In April 2017, as you are aware, Arcadia (not myself personally), agreed to a recovery programme of £50m a year, which they are currently doing. With regard to your next paragraph, let’s try to avoid another public spat, that you so enjoy.
“All the board are aware, if the company is sold, there are pension obligations and there is a process that they will need to adhere to should that arise.”
Concluding his letter, Green said: “Mr. Field, why don’t we call a truce. You say it is not personal, it could not be more personal. Go and tackle Carillion or someone else. I think eighteen months later everyone is bored with this story.”
Field “welcomed” Green’s decision to double Arcadia’s deficit recovery contributions to £50m per year for 10 years, but also asked Green to commit to applying for voluntary clearance for any sale of all or part of Arcadia and to publish that application in the interests of transparency.
In addition, Field wrote to The Pensions Regulator on 22 February 2018, to ensure that it was following procedure in light of the alleged sale of Arcadia to Shandong Ruyi.
Field said: “I am aware that TPR has a system of voluntary clearance system which enables scheme sponsors to apply for confirmation that they will not be subject to anti-avoidance action as a result of a major corporate transaction.”
Field went on to say that the system had been used sparingly in recent times and asked the Regulator to confirm that “undergoing voluntary clearance is responsible corporate behaviour”.
Green’s Arcadia Group includes brands Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis with 2,800 stores across the world. The retail empire employs 26,000 staff and around 11,000 of these are part of its defined benefit pension schemes.