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Philip Green

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Sir
Philip Green
Philip Green.jpg
Green in 2007
BornPhilip Nigel Ross Green
(1952-03-15) 15 March 1952 (age 66)
Croydon, Surrey, England
ResidenceMonaco[1]
NationalityBritish
OccupationBusinessman
Years active1967–present
Net worthUS$4.9 billion (2018)[2]
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Tina Green
ChildrenChloe
Brandon
Stasha Palos (stepdaughter)
Brett Palos (stepson)

Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green (born 15 March 1952) is a British businessman, and the chairman of Arcadia Group, a retail company that includes Topshop, Topman, Wallis, Evans, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Outfit. The now-defunct BHS chain was also part of the group.

Green has been involved in a number of controversies throughout his professional career, including his actions prior to the demise of BHS.[3] In October 2016, the House of Commons approved a measure to ask the Honours Forfeiture Committee to strip Green of his knighthood for his role in the downfall of BHS.[4] This decision was not legally binding and his knighthood was not revoked, although there were later calls to revoke it if allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and racism revealed in October 2018 are proved.[5]

Biography

Green was born on 15 March 1952 in Croydon, Surrey,[6] into a middle-class Jewish family.[7] The son of a successful property developer and retailer,[8] he has a sister, Elizabeth, five years his senior. His family moved to Hampstead Garden Suburb, a middle-class area of north London, and at the age of nine he was sent to the now-closed Jewish boarding school Carmel College in Oxfordshire.[9]

At the age of twelve Green's father died of a heart attack, and the boy inherited the family business. After leaving boarding school at 15, Green worked for a shoe importer before travelling to the US, Europe and the Far East. On his return, aged 21, he set up his first business, importing jeans from the Far East to sell on to London retailers. The business was assisted with a £20,000 loan (equivalent to £216,000 in 2014) backed by his family.[10] [11][12]

In 1979, Green bought up, at low prices, the entire stock of ten designer-label clothes retailers that had gone into receivership. He then had the newly bought clothes dry cleaned, put on hangers, and wrapped in polythene to make them look new, and bought a shop from which to sell them to the public.[13]

Amber Day

In 1988, he became chairman and Chief Executive of a quoted company called Amber Day, a discount retailer. The shares performed well, but then suffered a series of profit downgrades and in 1992 he resigned when the company failed to meet its profit forecast.[14]

BHS, Arcadia, Topshop

Next, Green assisted his wife Tina Green in the purchase of the Arcadia Group, which owns High Street chains such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Topshop/Topman and Wallis in 2002. The company was briefly owned by Green but sold to Tina Green[15] within 24 hours, with Philip acting as CEO.

When The Guardian newspaper investigated a proposed takeover of Safeway in 2003, Green responded to queries about Arcadia's accounts by insulting and swearing at the journalists.[16]

Charitable works and other activities

In April 1980, Green registered a philanthropic initiative, the Kahn Charitable Trust, with a vision of "putting lost smiles back on the faces of less privileged persons across the globe."[17]

Green is a supporter of the Fashion Retail Academy[18] and the industry charity Retail Trust.[19] Green was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours "For services to the Retail Industry".[20]

In May 2007, after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal, Green donated £250,000 as a monetary reward for any useful public information.[21] He also gave the McCanns the use of his private jet to allow them to fly to Rome for a Papal visit.[22]

In 2010, Green donated $465,000 for new beds at the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital, after his wife Tina's mother died there. He also spent more than $150,000 for an Alexander McQueen dress at Naomi Campbell's Fashion for Relief charity event.[23] In the same year, Green donated £100,000 to the Evening Standard's Dispossessed Fund which aims to support London's poorest people.[24]

He was reportedly the BBC's first choice to front the UK franchise of The Apprentice; however, at that time in 2004, he was too busy with Arcadia's attempted takeover of Marks and Spencer.[25]

Political activity

Two weeks prior to the 2010 general election, Green came out in support of David Cameron, George Osborne and the Conservative Party, stating that Cameron and Osborne "understand what needs to be done. They get it."[26]

In August 2010, Green was asked by Cameron, then recently elected as Prime Minister, to carry out a review of UK government spending and procurement.[27] Green's summary report, Efficiency Review by Sir Philip Green,[28] published in October 2010, alleged significant failings in government procurement processes. The government published the review identifying its main finding as "the Government is failing to leverage both its credit rating and its scale".[29] Cameron welcomes the report, saying ""I think it's a good report, it will save a lot of money and it's important we do it."[30]

Personal life

Green is based during the week at a London hotel, spending the weekends with his wife and their children, Chloe and Brandon, in an apartment in Monaco.[31] Brandon celebrated his bar mitzvah in 2005. Green spent £4 million on the three-day event on the French Riviera, inviting over 200 friends and family and hiring Andrea Bocelli and Destiny's Child to perform. For his nephew, Matt, Green held a bar mitzvah at Madame Tussauds; guests included Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh, and One Direction performed. Matt and Chloe shared a birthday party in December 2011. Held at One Mayfair, the event cost over £1 million and performers included Rihanna. [32] For his 50th birthday, Green flew 200 guests in a chartered Airbus A300 to a hotel in Cyprus for a three-day toga party, where they were serenaded by Tom Jones and Rod Stewart, who was reportedly paid £750,000 for a 45-minute set. For his 55th birthday, Green flew 100 guests 8,500 miles in two private jets to The Four Seasons: Landaagiraavaru, an eco-spa on a private island in the Maldives.[33]

Green owns a £100 million, 90 m (300 ft) Benetti Lionheart yacht[34][35] and a £20 million Gulfstream G550 private jet.[31] For a birthday, his wife bought him a solid gold Monopoly set, featuring his own acquisitions.[36]

Green is inspired by Sir Charles Clore, who built the Sears Plc UK retail empire from scratch in the 1950s and 1960s.[37]

Daughter Chloe had a son with model Jeremy Meeks in 2018.[38][39]

Football involvement

Green is a big Tottenham Hotspur supporter.[40] In 1987 he suggested to Irving Scholar, the Spurs chairman, that Tony Berry be appointed to the board.[41] In 1991, he helped Terry Venables raise the last £500,000 needed to purchase shares in the club.[41] He was also involved in the transfers of Rio Ferdinand from Leeds United and Louis Saha from Fulham to Manchester United.[41]

Green is involved with Everton Football Club due to his friendship with chairman Bill Kenwright, but states that has no intention of formally investing in the club.[42] He arranged for another friend, Planet Hollywood's owner Robert Earl, to purchase shares from former director Paul Gregg during a struggle for control of Everton in 2004.[43] He offers business advice to the club alongside Tesco CEO Terry Leahy and helps negotiate player transfer fees with agents.[44]

Controversies

Tax avoidance

Topshop Oxford Circus damaged by anti-cuts protesters in March 2011

Green became the target of activist group UK Uncut in November 2010 for alleged corporate tax avoidance. The group targeted Green specifically as a government advisor.[45]

Taveta Investments, acquired by Arcadia in 2002, is registered in the name of Green's wife.[46] As a Monaco resident, the company faces a significantly lower tax liability than if she were a UK resident.[47] When Green paid his family £1.2 billion in 2005, it was paid for by a loan taken out by Arcadia, cutting Arcadia's corporation tax as interest charges on the loan were offset against profits.[48]

Worker rights

Arcadia has been criticised for the pay and conditions of both overseas and UK workers by anti-sweatshop groups such as Labour Behind the Label, No Sweat and the student activist network People & Planet.[49] Green denied allegations in The Sunday Times made during 2007 that his firm used overseas sweatshops where workers in Mauritius were paid pitiful wages.[50]

In 2010, Green was again accused of using sweatshops, this time by Channel 4's Dispatches programme. It was asserted that he was using factories in Britain in which workers were paid less than half the legal minimum wage.[51]

Anti-Irish outburst

In 2003, when The Guardian was conducting an investigation into Green's corporate finances, Green responded to the publication's queries on the subject with a string of expletive-laden outbursts about The Guardian's financial editor, Paul Murphy. Green said: "He can't read English. Mind you, he is a fucking Irishman." Green issued an apology later after customers threatened to boycott his stores.[52]

Demise of BHS

Advertising the closing down sale for a London branch of BHS.

Green bought BHS for £200m in 2000, but the firm performed poorly so he sold it for just £1 in 2015. By April 2016 BHS had debts of £1.3bn, including a pensions deficit of £571m.[53] Despite the deficit of £571m, Green and his family collected £586m in dividends, rental payments and interest on loans during their 15-year ownership of the retailer. Referring to the conduct of Green, Angela Eagle, the shadow business secretary, said: "In this situation it appears this owner extracted hundreds of millions of pounds from the business and walked away to his favourite tax haven, leaving the Pension Protection Scheme to pick up the bill."[54] Simon Walker, the Director General of the Institute of Directors, described Green's "lamentable failure of behaviour" which was deeply damaging to the reputation of business. He then added that he had moral responsibilities to the pension fund and a proper investigation was needed but not one that took years.[55] It took months for the negotiation to be settled down, it ended with Mr. Green agreeing to a voluntary settlement on funding the pension scheme.[56]

Appearance before joint Select Committee meeting

Ahead of a joint Business and Work and Pensions Select Committee meeting, Green called the inquiry biased, and stated that he "therefore required [its chair, Frank Field] to resign". Field pointed out that the size of the pensions deficit is a fact, not a matter of opinion, and that Parliament and not Green decides who chairs Committees.[57]

Knighthood

In 2016 the House of Commons approved a motion asking the Honours Forfeiture Committee to recommend Green's knighthood be "cancelled and annulled". 100 MPs voted in favour of the motion, the first time MPs have proposed someone be stripped of a knighthood.[4] The vote was not binding on the government. Following his paying £363m into the BHS pension scheme in 2017, and a decision in 2018 not to ban him from being a company director,[58] it appeared that he would not be stripped of his knighthood on this occasion.[59]

Sexual harassment and bullying allegations

In October 2018 The Daily Telegraph reported that "a leading businessman has been granted an injunction against The Telegraph to prevent this newspaper revealing alleged sexual harassment and racial abuse of staff".[60] The following day, in the House of Lords, Labour peer Peter Hain exercised parliamentary privilege to name Green as the subject of the allegations.[5] The Telegraph said that the allegations would "reignite the #MeToo movement against the mistreatment of women, minorities and others by powerful employers.[60] Opposition MPs, including Labour MPs Frank Field and Jess Phillips, and Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable), called for a revocation of Green's knighthood.

References

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External links