TPR responds to Field regarding Arcadia

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has responded to Work and Pensions Committee chair, Frank Field MP, on what engagement it has had with the pension schemes of ailing retail group, Arcadia.

Field wrote to TPR on 14 March, seeking answers on what action it has taken regarding the Arcadia pension schemes, which have a deficit of over £500m.

TPR said in its response, dated 2 April, that it was in “regular contact” with the trustees of the scheme and “remain alert” to changes in the company’s circumstances.

It also explained that if dividends and other shareholder distributions exceed deficit reduction contributions, the regulator would expect a “strong funding target and recovery plans to be short” and, if the employer was deemed to be “weak and unable to support the scheme”, it would expect shareholder payments to be ceased.

Yesterday (10 April), Field accused Arcadia owner Philip Green of being “up to his old tricks” after reports emerged that he was looking to halve the agreed recovery payments, from £50m per year for 10 years to £25m.

On what engagement it has had with the scheme, TPR said: “The trustees and their advisers have been fully engaged and co-operative and have provided necessary information at key times in order to keep us fully informed of the circumstances of the schemes.

“Our engagement with the schemes has also included a tri-partite meeting with the trustees and with representatives from the company, during which the company’s position was discussed.”

Last month, Green sought approval from the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF) over a company voluntary arrangement, in a move that would see pension contributions slashed as well as a substantial number of store closures and job losses, according to Sky News reports.

TPR added: “We routinely maintain interest in the group’s current trading position and its trading outlook as those are likely to have a material impact on these discussions, in the context of the well recognised difficulties currently faced by many high street retailers.”

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