Topshop owner Philip Green tells UK retailers to stop moaning

Philip Green with Kourtney and Kim Kardashian at the launch of their clothing line at Dorothy Perkins this month. Photograph: Chris Helgren/Reuters
Retail tycoon Sir Philip Green, who owns the Topshop-to-BHS Arcadia group, has urged fellow retailers to stop moaning about the economic climate and get on with it.

“We’ve got to trade. I can’t keep listening to all these people making it up as they go along,” Green told Reuters on Wednesday, as his Arcadia chain reported flat sales for the last year. “We’ve got to up our game. If we sit there and cry and put on my front window the Bank of England said X, it isn’t going to help me take any money.”

Last week the Bank of England warned of a “long and winding” road to recovery, with years of sluggish growth and rising prices.

Arcadia posted a 25% rise in profits before tax and one-off items to £166.9m for the year to 25 August as a drive to raise efficiency in stock management boosted margins. However, total sales were flat at £2.68bn while like-for-like sales edged down 0.7% overall and fell 3.2% in the UK. Group like-for-like sales have inched up 0.7% in the first 10 weeks of the new financial year.

For the seventh year running Green, who is based in Monaco, did not pay himself a dividend. In 2005 he received a £1.2bn payment.

In a slew of figures from retailers on Wednesday, Halfords suffered a 23% slump in first-half profits as the “summer of sport” and better weather in the second quarter were not enough to offset a poor start to the year.

Sales in the first quarter were affected by bad weather but the retailer, which sells bicycles and car parts from more than 460 stores in the UK and Ireland and 260 Autocentres, said it made up much of the lost ground in the second quarter. Better weather coupled with the success of British cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton in the Tour de France and the London Olympics boosted sales of bikes and accessories.

Halfords made a profit before tax and one-off items of £41.9m in the 26 weeks to the end of September, down from £54.7m a year ago. It stuck to its profit guidance of £66m-£70m for the full year.

Fashion chain French Connection said UK and European store sales had improved thanks to more typically autumnal weather than last year, which has led to it selling more coats and knitwear. But it noted that the market remained inconsistent. Like-for-like revenues were flat during its third quarter, the 16 weeks to 20 November, following a 9.5% fall in the first half of the year.

JD Sports said it remained on track to deliver full-year profits in line with expectations, although a lot depends on Christmas. Like-for-like sales growth in the UK picked up to 1.5% in the 16 weeks to 17 November from 1.1% in the 26 weeks to the end of July.


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