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Philip Green
Born 15 March 1952 (1952-03-15) (age 57)
Croydon, London, England
Occupation Businessman

Sir Philip Green (born 15 March 1952) is a British billionaire businessman who owns some of the United Kingdom's largest retailers, including the Arcadia Group. He is Britain's ninth richest person with assets worth around £4.43bn in 2008.[1] He owns 2300 shops in the UK and his assets currently control 12% of the UK clothing retail market, making his empire the second-largest in the sector. The leader, Marks and Spencer, has been the target of three unsuccessful takeover bids from Green.

He is also the co-owner of media company Greenwell Entertainment, a coalition with music mogul Simon Cowell. [2]

Contents

Biography

Philip Green was born into a Jewish family on 14 March 1952 in Croydon, in South London, and has a sister, Elizabeth, five years his senior. The family moved to Hampstead Garden Suburb, a middle-class enclave in north London, and at the age of nine he was sent to the now-closed Jewish boarding school Carmel College in Oxfordshire. When his father died of a heart attack, Philip was in line to inherit the family business at the age of twelve. After leaving boarding school at 15, he worked for a shoe importer before travelling to the US, Europe and the Far East. It was on his return that he set up his first business with a £20,000 loan, importing jeans from the Far East to sell on to retailers in London.

In 1979, Green bought up the entire stock of ten designer label clothes sellers who had gone into receivership for extremely low prices. He then had the newly-bought clothes sent to the dry cleaners, got them put on hangers, wrapped them in polythene to make them look new, and then bought a place to sell them to the public.

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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; in 1992 he was forced to resign by the company's leading institutional shareholders. He has not led a quoted company since. Ever since, he has relied upon a close group of like-minded entrepreneurs, including Tom Hunter (a sports shoe millionaire and one of the richest men in Scotland) and the Barclay brothers, to help fund his buccaneering forays into the UK's High Streets.

1990s

In the early 1990s Green bought the department store chain Owen Owen which at the time had about 12 branches trading under the Owen Owen and Lewis's brand names. During his ownership most of these department stores were sold to other operators including Debenhams and Allders or were closed leaving only the Liverpool branch trading as Lewis's remaining. In 2004 this remaining store was sold off to David Thompson.

In 1995 he linked with Tom Hunter to buy sports retailer Olympus as part of a merger. The price was £1, plus the assumption of £30 million in debt. Green and his partners sold the company three years later to JJB Sports for £550 million. Green walked away £73 million richer. That encouraged the Barclay brothers to back him in the £538m acquisition of the Sears retail chain (a different Sears from Sears, Roebuck and Company) in 1999. The subsequent disposal programme (including selling some of the assets, ironically, to Arcadia) raised £729m and confirmed his reputation as a man who could deliver within the retail sector.

BHS, Arcadia, Topshop

Green came to public attention in 1999 when he attempted to make a £9 billion hostile bid for Marks and Spencer. However the leaking of the bid forced up M&S's share price. The board of M&S were also hostile to the bid and sought to block it. Eventually Green gave up and purchased the ailing retail chain British Home Stores for £200 million. His takeover came when everyone else had dismissed the company as a failing brand and unfixable. Green put up £50 million of his own money and borrowed another £150 million to seal the deal. Green completely turned the company around, rebranded it as BHS, and the chain is now thought to be worth over £1.2 billion. Since he took over, profits have tripled to over £200 million a year.

Next, Green purchased the Arcadia Group, which owns well-known High Street chains such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Topshop/Topman and Wallis in 2002. Recently he has added the Etam chain to the group. Green paid £850m, and repaid the £808m he borrowed to finance the deal in two years, a move that stunned commentators when it was announced. The Arcadia Group has been enormously profitable, and currently has pre-tax profits of around £380 million.

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.[3]

On 20 October 2005 Green awarded Arcadia shareholders a £1.3 billion dividend. He and his wife are joint owners of 92% of the group, and therefore received £1.17bn - the largest payout to an individual in British corporate history.

Other activities

Green has pumped more than £6m into education, of which the bulk has gone into The Fashion Retail Academy, a form of specially-funded further education establishment in the United Kingdom, for which he is the major sponsor. It now has over 200 students. Green is a generous supporter of the industry charity Retail Trust[4]. Green was knighted on 17 June 2006.

In May 2007 after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal, Green donated £250,000 as a monetary reward for any useful public information.[5] He also provided the McCanns with the use of his private jet to allow them to fly to Rome for a Papal visit and back in time to put their twins to bed.[6] Green intends to increase the reward money to £1 million for the safe return of Madeleine.

He was reportedly the BBC's first choice to front the UK franchise of The Apprentice, however during that period in 2004, he was busy with Arcadia's attempted takeover of Marks and Spencer.[7]

Personal life

A UK resident, Green is based during the week at a London hotel, spending the weekends with his South African wife Christina and their children Chloe and Brandon in an apartment in Monaco.[8]

Green plays tennis with Prince Albert of Monaco and counts as his friends, David and Simon Reuben, Lord Hanson, Philip Colbert, Tom Hunter, Mohamed al-Fayed of Harrods, Bill Kenwright, David Goodman, Simon Cowell, Michael Winner and the Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya.[8]

Among Green's more extravagant items are a 208ft/£32 million Benetti yacht Lionheart[9] and a £20 million Gulfstream G550 private jet .[8] For his birthday, his wife bought him a solid gold Monopoly set, featuring his very own acquisitions.

Green has been described as "flash". For his son's Bar Mitzvah in 2005, he spent £4 million on a three-day event for over 200 friends and family in the French Riviera. He also hired Andrea Bocelli and Destiny's Child to perform.[10] For his 50th birthday he flew 200 guests in a chartered Boeing 747 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 he flew 100 guests 8,500 miles in two private jets from London Stansted Airport. They arrived at the exclusive Maldives resort of Four Seasons: Landaagiraavaru, an eco-spa on a private Indian Ocean island.[11]

His business hero is the late Sir Charles Clore, who built the Sears Plc UK retail empire from next to nothing in the 1950s and 1960s.[12]

Football involvement

He is a keen football fan and is a Tottenham Hotspur supporter.[13] In 1987 he suggested to Irving Scholar the Spurs Chairman that Tony Berry be appointed to the board.[14]

In 1991 he helped Terry Venables raise the last £500,000 needed purchase shares in the club.[14]

He was also involved in the transfers of Rio Ferdinand from Leeds United and Louis Saha from Fulham to Manchester United.[14]

He is heavily involved with Everton Football Club due to his friendship with chairman Bill Kenwright, but has no intention of formally investing in the club.[15] He arranged for another friend, Planet Hollywood's owner Robert Earle to purchase shares from former director Paul Gregg during a struggle for control of Everton in 2004.[16] He offers business advice to the club alongside Tesco CEO Terry Leahy and helps negotiates player transfer fees with agents.[17]

Criticism

Tax avoidance

Taveta Investments, the company used to acquire Arcadia in 2002, is in the name of Green's wife, a Monaco resident, avoiding millions of pounds in tax that would be payable if a UK resident owned the company.[18] When Green paid his family £1.2bn 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.[19] In comparison, staff at Arcadia were told in 2005 that members of its final salary pension scheme must increase contributions by half and work five years longer to qualify for the same payout.

Asset stripping

There have also been accusations that Philip Green is an asset-stripper as seen with his experiences with Owen Owen and the purchase of the UK arm of Etam which have seen a wide sell-off of stores. Philip Green denies this accusation.[20]

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.

References

  1. ^ "Rich List 2008". Sunday Times. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/specials/rich_list/rich_list_search/. Retrieved 2009-04-25.  
  2. ^ http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/2499137/Cowell-to-Phil-his-boots-in-TV-deal.html
  3. ^ "Days of anger, shouting, abuse and threats". The Guardian. 4 March 2003. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2003/mar/04/supermarkets. Retrieved 2009-04-25.  
  4. ^ http://www.retail-week.com/retail-trust-raises-over-1631m/1975420.article
  5. ^ Harry Potter Author Adds To Reward |Sky News|MADELEINE
  6. ^ Finding Madeleine
  7. ^ The Apprentice is to real business what Monopoly is to property - Telegraph
  8. ^ a b c Profile: Philip Green: The fastest billionaire is on his Marks - Times Online
  9. ^ Philip Green's Lionheart Yacht - Luxist
  10. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | Billionaire hires Destiny's Child
  11. ^ Pack your shorts, it's time for Sir Philip Green's birthday party | Business | The Guardian
  12. ^ Entrepreneurs - Times Online
  13. ^ Peston, Robert Who Runs Britain pp.97-98
  14. ^ a b c "Green oils the wheels of so many deals in football". 26 Oct 2006. Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/2348889/Green-oils-the-wheels-of-so-many-deals-in-football.html. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  15. ^ "Everton chief executive resigns". BBC.co.uk. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/e/everton/7532345.stm.  
  16. ^ "Green at heart of Everton battle". thisismoney.co.uk. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/investing-and-markets/article.html?in_article_id=414100&in_page_id=3.  
  17. ^ "Darkness returns to issue of agents' dual payments". Guardian. 14 September 2005. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2005/sep/14/sport.comment. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  18. ^ Mathiason, Nick (27 March 2005). "Where the rich stash their cash". The Observer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2005/mar/27/theobserver.observerbusiness2. Retrieved 2009-04-25.  
  19. ^ "Analysis: The rich get richer in poor old Britain". Independent on Sunday. 19 March 2006. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/analysis-the-rich-get-richer-in-poor-old-britain-470417.html. Retrieved 2009-04-25.  
  20. ^ Spotlight: Day in the life of a deal maker - International Herald Tribune

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