Sir Philip Green tells Frank Field MP to “go and tackle Carillion” amid Arcadia sale rumours

804
Philip Green Frank Field

Sir Philip Green has urged Frank Field MP to “go and tackle Carillion” while calling for a “truce” in his latest attempt to quash rumours about a sale of Arcadia Group.

In a letter seen by the Retail Gazette that was sent to Field – the chair of the House of Commons work and pensions select committee – Green told him it was time to “avoid another public spat, that you so enjoy”.

“Why don’t we call a truce. You say it is not personal, it could not be more personal. Go and tackle Carillion or someone else. I think 18 months later everyone is bored with this story,” wrote Green, whose retail empire includes Topshop and Topman, Miss Selfridge, Evans, Dorothy Perkins and Burton.

Field has been pursuing Green since the collapse of BHS, which was part of the Arcadia Group for 15 years until he sold it to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell in March 2015 for just £1.

Just 13 months later the high street giant collapsed, leaving thousands without a job and a £571 million black hole in its pension scheme.

The collapse sparked a parliamentary inquiry and Green’s knighthood was questioned, while Chappell was recently convicted for not assisting The Pensions Regulator in their investigation.

Green’s letter, which was sent at the end of last month, was the latest in a long-running dispute with Field.

The most recent round of hostilities was sparked by reports in the The Sunday Times that Green was trying to offload all or part of Arcadia Group to Chinese textile firm Shandong Ruyi.

The reports prompted Field to call for The Pensions Regulator to be granted powers to halt the Arcadia sale while his work and pensions committee launched an investigation into the impact of any sale on the Arcadia pension schemes.

He also went on to say that he thought Green had “got away with murder” over the failure of BHS.

Green has strongly denied there were any plans to sell Arcadia Group to Shandong Ruyi, even after a leaked email seen by The Sunday Times alleged that Green had enlisted the help of HSBC to help him find a buyer.

“It is now perfectly clear there is no truth whatsoever that the business is being sold to Shandong Ruyi, whom I had never heard of before the article and who have also confirmed to The Sunday Times directly, this is not the case,” Green said in his letter to Field.

In regards to Green’s commitment to protect Arcadia’s pension scheme, he wrote: “In April 2017, as you are aware, Arcadia (not myself personally), agreed to a recovery programme of £50 million a year, which they are currently doing.”

“Let’s try to avoid another public spat, that you so enjoy. All the board are aware, if the company is sold, there are pension obligations and there is a process that they will need to adhere to should that arise.”

A spokesman for Green added that “all parties understand that should at any point there be a disposal conversation there is a process in place regarding the Arcadia pension funds.

“The regulator has confirmed it is satisfied with the above responses and therefore this matter at this time is closed.”

Field told the BBC yesterday that there were no plans to issue a formal response to Green’s letter.

“Philip Green never ceases to amaze. We are carrying out a parliamentary inquiry into the possible sale of Arcadia,” he said.

“I am waiting for responses from The Pensions Regulator. We want the Pensions Regulator to get off their backside and supervise it [a possible sale].”

Click here to sign up to Retail Gazette‘s free daily email newsletter