Sales down at Topshop

Sales down at Topshop

Philip Green's Topshop and BHS empire saw annual sales slip and warned recent trading had worsened amid the mild autumn weather.

Arcadia, which also owns high street brands including Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge, followed New Look in revealing the impact of warmer-than-normal conditions after the fashion chain said this week that shoppers had been holding back from buying winter clothes.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics today also showed the impact of an unseasonably mild autumn on demand for clothing as retail sales fell unexpectedly in October, down 0.7%.

Arcadia disclosed a 3.7% drop in comparable store sales in the first 10 weeks of its new financial year, after falling 2.7% in the 12 months to August 31.

Green said "trading conditions remain challenging", with the results marking the second year of declining sales .

Underlying pre-tax profits edged 0.5% higher to £167.8 million, but adjusted earnings fell 2% to £220.9m.

Green did not pay a dividend for the eighth year running, with the last payout in 2005, when he banked a £1.2bn windfall.

The full-year figures come amid speculation over takeover interest in Green's struggling department store chain BHS.

Overseas suitors are reportedly circling BHS, with potential bidders said to include Christo Wiese, who is South Africa's third richest man with a fortune estimated at £2bn, US private equity firm Apollo and a number of retail turnaround firms.

But Green is not understood to be holding any talks currently over a sale of BHS, which he bought for £200m in 1999.

BHS has been weighed down by expensive leases and a pension fund deficit, although it is still a force on the high street with 180 stores and annual sales of £700m.

Arcadia said it was continuing to drive overseas expansion, with a further 161 new stores planned over the year ahead after 127 franchise shops opened in 2012-13.

Its Topshop/Topman brand has been increasing its presence in the United States, following Green's move last year to sell a 25% stake in the chains to American private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners for £350m, valuing the businesses at £2bn.

Green said he had been "collaborating closely" with the investor and now has four fully-owned Topshop/Topman stores in the US, with more in the pipeline.

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