Arcadia - could centralised functions make selling portfolio businesses trickier?


By Patrick Howarth

The Sunday Times reports that retail tycoon Sir Philip Green is considering breaking up his Arcadia empire. However, with the portfolio businesses so closely entwined, this could be easier said than done.

From an employment law angle, Arcadia may now need to look at allocating centralised staff (such as members of its finance team) to individual portfolio businesses so that if and when they are sold, those team members travel with the company to the new owner. This wouldn't necessarily mean Arcadia needs to transfer employees' contracts to portfolio companies, only ensure that they are clearly designated as undertaking activity for a specific brand (for example, Topshop).

Most of Arcadia’s functions, such as accounting and financing, are centralised, though buying and merchandising are devolved to the brands, which also include Miss Selfridge and Wallis. The need to untangle BHS from Arcadia’s systems was a problem after its sale in 2015. “Breaking it up is very, very difficult,” said a source. “There was a drive to put everything through shared services.”
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