Arcadia Group, the British retail empire that includes Topshop, has collapsed into administration, putting over 13,000 jobs at risk.
In a statement emailed to The Epoch Times late on Monday, the group said that it had called in administrators from Deloitte. This is the UK’s biggest corporate casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
The group, which billionaire Philip Green purchased for £850 million in 2002, operates from approximately 444 leased sites in the UK and 22 overseas, employing 13,000 people, 9,294 of whom are currently on furlough.
Arcadia CEO Ian Grabiner said it was “an incredibly sad day for all of our colleagues as well as our suppliers and our many other stakeholders.”
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic including the forced closure of our stores for prolonged periods has severely impacted on trading across all of our brands,” he said. “In the face of the most difficult trading conditions we have ever experienced, the obstacles we encountered were far too severe.”
Deloitte said all Arcadia’s brands will continue to trade and no redundancies were being immediately announced.
“We will be rapidly seeking expressions of interest and expect to identify one or more buyers to ensure the future success of the businesses,” said Matt Smith, Deloitte’s joint administrator.
Arcadia has been a major player on the British high street. In addition to Topshop, it owns Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Miss Selfridge, Evans, and Burton brands.
Other major retail businesses, such as Debenhams, Oasis, Warehouse, Laura Ashley, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, Peacocks, and Jaeger have already fallen into insolvency.
Non-essential shops were ordered to close in England as the government imposed a second national lockdown earlier this month. The lockdown is set to end on Dec. 2, but different regions will still be subject to varying levels of local restrictions.
Shops in the other parts of the UK—Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—have also been affected by regional restrictions adopted by their respective local authorities.
The lockdown measures have hit business confidence. One in seven businesses in the UK have no or low confidence that they will survive the next three months, according to the latest official survey data released by the Office for National Statistics earlier this month.
Lily Zhou and Reuters contributed to this report.