More than 13,000 staff in Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group face losing their jobs as the company collapses into administration.
Arcadia – which includes High Street favourites Topshop and Dorothy Perkins – has called in Deloitte to manage the possible break-up.
The coronavirus pandemic has seriously hit retailers as the UK has been in some sort of lockdown for nine months.
Arcadia has 444 stores in Britain and another 22 overseas.
More than 9,000 employees are currently on furlough.
No redundancies have been announced and it’s planned to re-open stores when a national lockdown ends tomorrow (Wednesday).
Arcadia has said it will honour all online orders.
Ian Grabiner, chief executive of Arcadia, said:
“This is an incredibly sad day for all of our colleagues as well as our suppliers and our many other stakeholders.
“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the forced closure of our stores for prolonged periods, has severely impacted on trading across all of our brands.
“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.”
Trade union Usdaw is seeking talks with Deloitte to try to save jobs.
Dave Gill, Usdaw national officer, said:
“Now that Arcadia is in administration, it is crucial that the voice of staff is heard over the future of the business and that is best done through their trade union.
“We are seeking urgent meetings and need assurances on what efforts are being made to save jobs, the plan for stores to continue trading and the funding of the pension scheme.
“In the meantime, we are providing our members with the support and advice they need at this very difficult time.”
Matt Smith, joint administrator at Deloitte, said:
“We will now work with the existing management team and broader stakeholders to assess all options available for the future of the group’s businesses.
“It is our intention to continue to trade all of the brands, and we look forward to welcoming customers back into stores when many of them are allowed to reopen.
“We will be rapidly seeking expressions of interest and expect to identify one or more buyers to ensure the future success of the businesses.”