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Nov 25, 2014
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Philip Green says cash gives Arcadia scope for deals

Nov 25, 2014

LONDON, United Kingdom - Retail tycoon Philip Green has the firepower for potential acquisitions as his Arcadia group, which owns Topshop, has ended its current financial year with more than 200 million pounds ($314 million) in cash.

Arcadia, which also has BHS department stores and Burton and Miss Selfridge chains, reported a 3 percent fall in profit for the year to Aug. 30, partly the result of bigger BHS losses.

Green, who tried and failed to buy British clothing retailer Marks & Spencer in 2004, echoed other stores in saying the Christmas outlook was not particularly encouraging.

“I think it’s going to be challenging,” he said, noting high levels of promotional activity on Britain’s shopping streets.

Although Arcadia's annual profits fell, it finished the year with 205 million pounds in cash, up from 75 million at the end of its previous year. And this compared with bank debt of 309 million pounds at the end of the 2011-12 year.

"It's not a bad time to have a business in this shape. Who knows, we could be a buyer of something," Green told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Setting aside the cash, we could get money very easily ... I like that flexibility just to be able to go left, right, and see if we want to do something." Green also said he was "absolutely not" currently working on any deals and said no approaches had been received for BHS following speculation last year.

He bought BHS for 200 million pounds in 2000 and the rest of Arcadia for 850 million pounds in 2002.

He has recently entered China through a deal with local online partner Shangpin and is mulling opening physical Topshop stores initially in Beijing and Shanghai.

British model Kate Moss has worked on fashion collections with Green's Topshop.

Strong performances from Arcadia's Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Topshop/Topman brands were offset by BHS losses. These increased to 21.0 million pounds in 2013-14 from 19.3 million the year before.

Green said turning round BHS remained challenging, though a trial of three food stores within BHS had traded favourably.

"My gut feel tells me it’s something that we will develop," he said, noting the potential for food in 80-100 BHS stores, with product supplied by Booker.

Green said Arcadia's Miss Selfridge, Burton and Evans all turned a profit.

In the first 10 weeks of Arcadia's 2014-15 year, sales at stores open over a year, including VAT sales tax, were down 1.2 percent, hurt by the warm autumn.

"There’s no point complaining but you do need some seasonal help," Green said.

Arcadia's annual profit before tax and one-off items was 143.1 million pounds, down from 148.1 million in 2012-13, on total sales up 1 percent to 2.71 billion.

Arcadia trades from 2,311 UK stores having closed a net 64 during the year.

For the ninth year running, Green did not pay a dividend. In 2005, he geared up the business to pay his Monaco-resident wife Christina, the ultimate owner of Arcadia, a 1.2 billion pound dividend.

1 GBP = 1.57093 USD

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