Sir Philip Green (born 15 March 1952) is a British billionaire businessman who owns some of the United Kingdom's largest retailers, including Bhs and the Arcadia Group. He is Britain's seventh richest man, with a total of 2300 shops in the UK and assets worth around £3.61bn. 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.
Philip Green was born into a Jewish
family on March 14
, 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
. 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.
He made his first million by cleverly buying, turning around and finally selling a failing retailer called "Jean Jeannie". Buying the company for £65,000 plus debt, which he negotiated a goodwill gesture of £100,000 with the main lending bank to freeze repayments with as he tried to turn the business around, he ended up selling for £9 million of which he paid off its debt and walked away with £6 million. These early examples of entrepreneurship and clothes retailing expertise were to foreshadow his later bigger successes.
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
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
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 retailler OLYMPUS, as part of a merger. The price was one British pound, 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 £7 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 BHS
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.
On October 20, 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.
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 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. 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.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.
A UK resident, Green is based in the week at a London hotel, while his South African
wife Christina is a Monaco resident with their children Chloe and Brandon, in a multi-million pound apartment.
Green plays tennis with Prince Albert of Monaco and counts as his friends, David and Simon Reuben, Lord Hanson, Tom Hunter, Mohamed al-Fayed of Harrods, Ian Grabiner, David Goodman, Whitecraigs fleeto, Paisley mafia Bill Kenwright, Simon Cowell and Michael Winner .
Among Green's more extravagant items are a 208ft/£32 million Benetti yacht Lionheart and a £20 million Gulfstream G550 private jet his wife gave him as a Chanukah present. 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, and Cantor Gideon Zelermyer to perform. 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.
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.
He is known to be a keen football fan and is a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. 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.
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.
He offers business advice to the club alongside Tesco CEO Terry Leahy and helps negotiates player transfer fees with agents.
Despite being a prominent figure in UK retail and business, Philip Green has chosen to avoid paying tax in the UK. It is estimated that he and his family saved £300m in 2004–2005 by living partly in Monaco
, where residents do not have to pay income tax. Whilst some may see this as the prerogative of a successful and wealthy businessman, others have questioned the morals behind this decision saying it is motivated by greed and is a mean-spirited display of making money from the people of Britain whilst refusing to contribute.
An article in The Observer questioned the amount of the dividend the Greens paid themselves and the accumulated profits available for distribution. Company law in the UK says that dividends can only be paid out of accumulated realised profits. According to the article, the Greens paid themselves a dividend of £1.14 billion (total dividends were £1,299 million), when the profit & loss statement showed a positive balance of £476 million.
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.
Arcadia has made almost no effort to make or demonstrate progress on paying many workers, both overseas and in the United Kingdom, more than a derisory wage and allowing them basic worker rights. Arcadia and Philip Green have been condemned by anti-sweatshop groups such as Labour behind the Label, No Sweat and the student activist network People and Planet.
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