Arcadia collapse could hit local businesses

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Arcadia stores across Liverpool could soon close / pic: Graham Soult via twitter @soult

Local restaurants, pubs and public transport could be hit by the closure of fashion giant Arcadia, says a retail expert.

Closure of Sir Philip Green’s struggling high street empire will lead to the loss of 13,000 jobs nationwide, with the number of Merseyside jobs yet unknown.

If a bidder cannot be found for Arcadia all 444 UK stores that include Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge will close.

This will include all stores in Liverpool and Merseyside that, says Wirral based retail consultant Mark Taylor, could have far reaching impact on other local businesses too.

The primary concern is for the loss of jobs, not just the Arcadia employees but also the knock-on impact of local businesses,” Mr Taylor told JMU Journalism.

“For example, the local food retailers where employees buy their lunch, pubs and restaurants that they frequented after work.

“The next impact felt will be the physical loss of store presence, with a significant number of shops becoming empty. Many of the BHS stores remain empty many years after that collapse. The one in Liverpool has only recently been taken by H&M.”

No redundancies have been confirmed yet and all Arcadia stores will continue to trade as administrators Deloitte survey the group’s options, with all Black Friday orders being honoured.

“Arcadia failed to adapt to the online threats from Boohoo, Asos & Missguided” said Mr Taylor.

“The very heart of the high street is being ripped away and whilst online retail is important, sales are still less than physical stores.”

Topshop worker Lola Roberts says the warning signs have been there for some time and believes some staff have been treated unfairly.

She said: “I’m not surprised they’ve gone into administration. Just before the first lockdown, before it was even going into administration, I did see a lot of the Topshop staff lose their jobs.

“After people lost their jobs the furlough scheme came into place, so they had no furlough from an employer they could have worked with for years.

“They’ve now been left without anything, so they’re probably feeling very stressed, upset, and quite angry at Topshop.”

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has offered the Arcadia group a £50m loan to solve short-term cash-flow problems, which has been rejected.

A spokesperson from the Arcadia Group told the BBC: “If this was about £50m we could find that in five minutes. You don’t know when you’ll be open, you don’t know what stock to buy.”

The Arcadia group is the single biggest concession in Debenhams and accounts for approximately £75million in sales. And today Debenhams has also announced the winding down of its 124 stores nationwide risking another 12,000 jobs. It has been in administration since April.

Liverpool is well aware of the gradual decline of department stores after seeing city based Littlewoods wound up in 2004.

Mr Taylor said: “Littlewoods was once a dominant force. Department stores are the victim of big brands going direct to consumer. Where large stores are like huge oil tankers, small independent stores are akin to agile speed boats, they can move direction much quicker. Small shops have the opportunity to be the best-in-class at what they do.”

 

About Alex Usher, JMU Journalism