Arcadia Group

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Arcadia Group Ltd.
Private limited company
Industry Retail
Founded 2002
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people
Sir Philip Green (Chairman)
Ian Grabiner (CEO)
Products Clothing
Owner Tina Green
Subsidiaries Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Burton, Evans, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis

Arcadia Group Ltd. (formerly Arcadia Group plc and Burton Group plc) is a British multinational retailing company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It owns the high street clothing retailers Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Topman, Topshop, Wallis and the out of town chain Outfit, which sells lines from the other group chains. The group has more than 2,500 outlets in the UK, concessions in UK department stores such as British Home Stores, Debenhams, Selfridges and House of Fraser, as well as several hundred franchises in other countries. Arcadia Group Ltd. is the largest business interest of retailing magnate Sir Philip Green. It is owned by his wife Tina, a resident in Monaco.


Early history and pre-WW2 era[edit]

The Company was founded by 18-year-old Lithuanian immigrant Montague Burton in Chesterfield in 1903 under the name of The Cross-Tailoring Company.[1] Burton's initial operation - a men's clothing manufacture, tailoring and retailing operation - became the genesis for the current Burton Menswear chain, which remains part of the company to this day, albeit having moved away from traditional tailoring to mainstream men's off-peg casuals and formalwear line with shifting trends in fashion and clothing.

The firm's headquarters moved from Chesterfield to Leeds in 1910, and 'The Cross-Tailoring Company' had changed its name to 'Burton' by the time the First World War broke out in 1914.[2]

The company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1929, by which time it had 400 stores, factories and mills.[1]

The Company had a large factory in Leeds which was visited by the Princess Royal in 1934.[1]

Post-war developments and expansion[edit]

After World War II Montague Burton offered men the chance to buy a full suit, which included jacket, trousers, waistcoat, shirt and underwear and became known as 'The Full Monty'.[1] In 1946 the Company acquired the Peter Robinson women's fashion chain.[3] By 1952, the year of Montague Burton's death, the Company was the largest multiple tailor in the world.[1]

Burton was the official suit supplier of the England national football team for the World Cup in 1966.[1]

In the mid-60s the Peter Robinson chain was relaunched as Topshop.[3] This was in response to the development of a new young fashion culture around Britain in the 1960s; Topshop became the company's home of young, modern, on-trend ladieswear, a role it continues to hold. The Topshop launch began with Topshop-branded departments within Peter Robinson stores in 1964, with the first standalone Topshop stores opened ten years later in 1974.[1] Eventually the Peter Robinson name was dropped altogether.

In 1971 the Group acquired Evans, a major operator in the field of fashionable clothing for the larger-size female customer.[3]

In the 70s, and as a complement to the suit business, the Group started to develop itself significantly in mainstream clothing retailing by beginning to target chains to precisely defined markets - for example it launched Topman for young men in 1970.[3] This development capitalised on the success of Topshop in catering for a young, fashion-savvy audience, and reflected the growth in men's casual clothing, with formal-wear sales declining due to the trend for more casual general clothing.

The firm also expanded its horizons by acquiring businesses outside its fashion heartland, at one point owning stationery chain Ryman[4] but later scaled back to focus principally on clothing.

In 1979 the Dorothy Perkins chain was acquired, enabling the Group to expand into the mainstream womenswear market, following the success of its previous ladieswear ventures (Topshop and Evans).[3] The Dorothy Perkins chain has subsequently been positioned as the group's flagship ladieswear operation, focused towards a similar target audience as Burton is in menswear.

In 1984 the Group launched a new chain, Principles, for fashion conscious women with a higher disposable income; this allowed the firm to capitalise on emerging new fashion and business trends of the 1980s, such as power dressing. Principles for Men was launched a year later, in 1985, following the success of the ladies' division.

Also in 1985 the Group acquired Debenhams, then the largest department store group in the UK.[5] The large store Browns of Chester, which had previously been part of the Burton group,[4] was subsequently moved across to trade as part of the Debenhams chain, and remained part of the Debenhams unit following the unit's divestment (it is today the only Debenhams-owned store not branded under the Debenhams name).

The firm also purchased menswear firm Colliers,[6] ultimately rolling this into the Burton, Topman and Principles For Men chains.

1990s: reorganisation, launches and acquisitions[edit]

In 1993, spurred on by the recession of the early 1990s which had led to declining sales across the clothing retail market, the Burton Group undertook a major review of its trading space portfolio. Under the banner of 'Townprint', the firm reviewed the location and branding of its stores in each town and city in which they operated. At the time of the review the Group was operating in the region of 1600 stores, some of which had been with the group for some years and some of which were no longer performing adequately. The ultimate result was that the Group ended the leases on around 380 of the outlets they were trading from at that point, though replaced over half of these (around 220 stores in all) with the lease of store units which the Group had not previously been trading from. Around 350 stores were transferred from one of the company's brands to another.[4] As part of the Townprint programme, the firm began to roll out new ways of working, such as operating increasing numbers of combined stores, where several brands shared the same unit; these combinations (such as Topshop/Topman or Burton/Dorothy Perkins unit-shares) would continue to be developed through the 1990s and 2000s as a way of reducing overheads whilst maintaining geographical spread of the brands.

In 1996, the Group made its first move into home shopping with the acquisition of Innovations[7] along with the Hawkshead brand in July 1996 and Racing Green in October 1996. Innovations and some related brands were then sold to the home shopping group Great Universal Stores in November 1997.[7]

The decision to de-merge Debenhams and separate it from the rest of the Group was announced in July 1997: the plan was approved by shareholders in January 1998 and the de-merger took effect later that month. At that time Debenhams became a separate company with its own listing on the London Stock Exchange.[5] It was at this point that the Group, until then still Burton Group plc, became Arcadia Group plc.[8]

The late 1990s also saw the launch of a new experimental high-fashion menswear chain, SU214 (Style Union 214), which took its name from its flagship store at 214 Oxford Street in London.[9] The chain aimed to capitalise on the growing demand for high-end casualwear and expand upon the group's presence in the young menswear market.

In June 1998 the Group acquired Wade-Smith, the Liverpool-based retailer of designer childrenswear, menswear and womenswear.[10] The acquisition was primarily to allow Arcadia to expand its presence in the childrenswear market, which they had made little attempt at up to this point. New Wade Smith Jr stores opened in locations such as the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.[11]

In June 1999 Arcadia Group launched Zoom, an e-commerce and Internet Service Provider that forms a key part of the Group's multi-channel approach to retailing. Shortly after Zoom's launch, Associated Newspapers Ltd acquired a 50% stake in Zoom, allowing both partners to benefit from the increased joint marketing opportunities.[12]

In July 1999 Arcadia Group increased its share of the UK womenswear market with the acquisition of the Sears womenswear businesses, comprising the Warehouse, Wallis, Richards, Miss Selfridge and Outfit brands from the defunct Sears plc.[13] Shortly afterwards, Arcadia chose to close down the underperforming Richards chain, though shops in suitable locations were rebranded under other Arcadia store brands.[14] Arcadia continued to develop the Wallis, Miss Selfridge and Warehouse brands, and expanded significantly the Outfit out-of-town store chain, introducing other Arcadia brands to the stores and expanding the store network.

2000 to present[edit]

In 2000, the firm undertook a strategy known internally as 'BrandMAX' under which underperforming brands were closed or scaled down.[15] In some cases stores which were closed were replaced by other Arcadia properties. As part of BrandMAX, the Wade Smith Jr, Principles For Men and SU214[16] store brands ceased to trade and were absorbed as concessions into other group businesses (for instance, menswear chain SU214 was absorbed into Topman). Miss Selfridge was also reduced significantly in size (though gained a new London flagship store in the former SU214 flagship site) and all remaining standalone Topman stores were replaced by combined Topshop-Topman stores, a process of integration which had begun some years previously.

In 2002, Arcadia Group PLC was bought by Taveta Investments, owned by Taveta Ltd based in Jersey. Taveta Ltd is owned by Philip Green's Family, the only director is Tina Green[17][18][19] the wife of billionaire Philip Green accordingly Arcadia Group became a private company and was delisted from the London Stock Exchange.[3]

By the middle of October 2002, the company had sold some of its chains, including Principles, Warehouse, Racing Green and Hawkshead, to Rubicon Retail for £35m.[20] Those Outfit stores which were already retailing Principles and Warehouse clothing continued to do so by arrangement with the new owners. Arcadia also entered into discussions regarding the sale of the Wade Smith brand back to its previous owners.[21]

In 2005, Sir Philip Green bought the UK retail stores of Etam and Tammy; these stores were converted into other Arcadia retail outlets, with Tammy clothing subsequently being retailed through BHS and Outfit stores. Some of the stores not retained by Arcadia were taken up by other fashion retail groups, with Monsoon acquiring a large number of the outlets.[22]

In February 2009 it was announced that the BHS department store chain, also owned by the Greens, will be integrated into Arcadia.[23][24] As part of the changes, some administrative functions previously run separately will be consolidated to improve efficiency, and some BHS retail stores will begin to carry Arcadia brands as concessions; this enables Arcadia to expand the presence of its brands without having to lease large numbers of new stores, and allows the firm to cut store costs by moving some operations from stand-alone stores into BHS locations. For example, in The Mall Bexleyheath, the firm was able to introduce Wallis to the retail portfolio without having to lease a separate new store to do so, and was also able to close the existing Evans store and relocate its operations into BHS. Meanwhile, at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock, Essex, the existing two-floor BHS was replanned to a reformatted single-level store to allow Topshop/Topman to relocate from their prior site (itself earlier expanded into the neighbouring ex-Etam premises) to take up what was previously the upper level of BHS. (The previous Topshop/Topman space was itself used to introduce Forever 21 to the centre).

In late 2010 it emerged Arcadia was considering a review of its property portfolio, similar to those undertaken under the "Townprint" and "BrandMAX" schemes, to look at the firm's store distribution; this was sparked by the fact that several hundred of the firm's existing store leases expire over the coming three to five years. Analysts estimated that between 150 and 300 stores could be shut and replaced with new locations or integrated/combined stores.[25] After Phillip Green confirmed that the number of stores under lease was to fall,[26] in 2013-14 Arcadia began shutting stores in a number of locations, mostly in small-to-medium-sized towns and cities, including South Shields,[27] Barnsley,[28] Scunthorpe,[29] Dartford,[30] Crawley,[31] Erdington, Birmingham[32] and Market Harborough[33] amongst others. Arcadia cited the rise in online shopping and 'destination' centres as a reason for moving away from high street locations.

In March 2015, following continued losses BHS was sold to Retail Acquisitions Ltd.


This is a summary list of the Arcadia Group's operations.

Current operations[edit]

Former operations[edit]

  • Debenhams - demerged into separate company in 1998
  • Etam - closed shortly after purchase
  • Hawkshead - sold to Rubicon Retail
  • Innovations - sold to GUS in 1997
  • Peter Robinson - became Topshop
  • Principles - sold to Rubicon Retail; now owned by Debenhams
  • Principles for Men - closed
  • Racing Green - sold to Rubicon Retail
  • Richards - closed shortly after purchase
  • SU214 - closed
  • Wade Smith - sold circa 2002
  • BHS - sold to Retail Acquisitions Ltd in March 2015


External links[edit]