Arcadia pensions deficit more than £500 million

Arcadia Group, which owned the Topshop brand, owed £800 million upon adminstration
Justin Kase zsixz / Alamy Stock Photo

The pension deficit left by the collapse of high street retailer Arcadia is around £150m more than initial estimates.

According to a report by trade journal Retail Gazette and documents seen by newspapers, the deficit is £510 million. In a document sent to creditors this week, the group owed £800 million when it went into administration, including £163 million to fashion and fitting suppliers and £36.5 million to landlords.

The company collapsed in December, with online retailer Asos buying up its Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands but closing stores, risking 2,500 jobs.

The remaining brands, including Debenhams, were then acquired by online fashion site Boohoo, but again there are no plans to reopen physical stores.

After the company entered administration, owner Philip Green promised to pay £50 million towards the deficit in the pension scheme, but it is likely this will be taken over by the Pension Protection Fund.

So far, trustees of the scheme have received £180 million of funds from the sale of Arcadia’s assets as part of a deal agreed with the pensions regulator in 2019. In March 2020, it asked the regulator if it could delay contributions due to the Covid crisis.

The Green family has attracted widespread criticism for failing to honour employees’ pensions savings.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said: “Arcadia employees should not pay the price of Philip Green’s greed. His family extracted the largest dividend in history from Arcadia. The least he can do is help plug the pension deficit with the proceeds of this sale.

“If he does not do that, pensioners of Arcadia will lose out. The government must come out clearly and unequivocally and say Philip Green must show that responsibility.”

It has also emerged this week that a 99-year-old factory in Leeds used as a distribution centre for Arcadia shops will close, meaning the loss of 400 jobs. Employees will enter a consultation period on 24 February.

Responding to the planned closure, Jake O’Malley from the GMB Union said: “To see 400 hard-working people lose their jobs while the likes of Phillip Green and the administrators waltz off with millions is repugnant.

“A century of history of hundreds of good jobs down the pan – while Philip Green is living it up on his private yacht and the administrators pick the bones of the business green.”

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