Billionaire retail tycoon Sir Philip Green saw his family’s wealth decline by £433 million over the last year, due to the collapse of BHS and tough trading conditions for retailers up and down the High Street.
In a preview of its annual Rich List, the Sunday Times on Tuesday announced that Sir Philip Green and wife Lady Tina Green’s net wealth declined to £2.78 billion over the last year.
The Greens still rank among the ten richest couples in Britain but are the only pair to see their wealth decline over the last year.
The Sunday Times says the slump in wealth is down to Sir Philip’s settlement over the collapse of BHS and tougher trading at the Green’s flagship Arcadia Group.
Sir Philip Green bought BHS in 2000 for £200 million ($US244.9 million). He sold it for £1 in 2015 and the department store collapsed into administration in April last year. BHS had been struggling for years and a government report into its collapse blamed under-investment and excessive dividend payouts for sending it into a downward spiral, although its £1 buyer, Dominic Chappell, was also heavily criticised.
Sir Philip repeatedly denied any wrongdoing but was pursued by MPs who called for him to guarantee the pensions of 20,000 BHS workers, who faced smaller than expected payouts as a result of the chain’s collapse. Sir Philip eventually agreed to pay £363 million to prop up the pension scheme in February of this year.
Although this settlement accounts for most of the Green’s declining net wealth, the Sunday Times says the couple have also suffered from a fall in the value of their stake in Arcadia Group, “due to falling sales, reduced assets and a ballooning pension deficit.”
The Arcadia Group owns High Street chains such as Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, and Burton. Like other bricks-and-mortars retailers, the group is struggling to compete with increasing competition from digital-only retailers. Documents released last month also show that the group’s pension deficit has ballooned to close to £1 billion.
Despite their decline in wealth, the Green’s remain the fifth richest couple in Britain and rank 41st in the nationally. The Sunday Times Rich List, which ranks the richest people in Britain, will be released in full as a pull out in the May 7 edition of the paper.