Sir Philip Green’s retail empire, Arcadia Group, is seeking taxpayer support to the wages of its staff as its stores remain closed amid the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.
Arcadia, which owns shops such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, is expecting to furlough around 14,500 workers who will be supported using the government’s wage support scheme, which pays employees 80% of their salary up to £2,500 per month if they are unable to work during the outbreak.
Arcadia’s 550 shops have been closed for around two weeks, but with no indication that the lockdown will be over any time soon, it has been forced to furlough the majority of its 16,000-strong workforce.
The group’s chief executive, Ian Grabiner, will also not be receiving no pay or benefits until further notice while a number of directors and senior managers have agreed to take pay cuts of up to 50%.
Arcadia’s use of taxpayer money may make some creditors nervous after the group barely avoided collapse last year due to financial troubles after agreeing to shutter 50 stores and cut 1,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, other high street retailers, many of whom were struggling before the pandemic, have been hit particularly hard as the UK’s lockdown has kept punters out of its stores and left them scrabbling to defer rent payments and cut down on pay for many now redundant staff.
Earlier on Friday, clothing retailer Next PLC (LON:NXT) said it had been forced to sell its headquarters and three warehouses to help the business cope from the lack of sales in the coronavirus pandemic.
The FTSE 100 group hopes to raise around £100mln from the sale and lease-back of its head office in Leicestershire and, separately, three warehouses in West Yorkshire, which it will use to shore up its cash balance until the outbreak subsides.