Arcadia 'could offer equity' in drive to reduce rents
As reports continue to suggest that Topshop owner Arcadia is to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) within weeks, it has also emerged that the company is to offer Arcadia Group shares to its landlords as it seeks their support for the company’s restructuring plans.
It’s certainly an interesting move in an environment in which landlords are increasingly being asked to cut or completely waive their rents with no benefit in return, apart from knowing that their properties are occupied.
Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green is mulling an offer of up to 20% of the equity in the group, The Sunday Times reported. Despite its struggles, that would add up to a significant interest in the firm that not only runs Topsshop and Topman but also Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Evans and Burton.
The news comes after last week’s reports that the company has earmarked 67 stores for closure out of its 570 store-estate, although reports persist that more could close. The company is also believed to be seeking rent reductions of around 30% for the stores it will continue to operate.
But whether landlords would be wooed by a stake in the company is open to question with the increasing number of CVAs being used by the retail sector being heavily criticised by property owners. Given that the last year for which Arcadia’s results are available (the 12 months to late August 2017) showed that it was still seeing sales of £1.9 billion and operating profits of £124 million (albeit that the latter were down by 42%), justification for a CVA could be hard to find unless the performance has deteriorated significantly.
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