150 staff launch legal battle against Sir Philip Green's empire

More than 150 staff who lost their jobs after collapse of Arcadia are set to launch legal battle against Sir Philip Green’s retail empire over claims their redundancies breached employment law 

  • Asos last week announced its £330m takeover of Arcadia stock but not shops
  • Countless employees officially told they’d lost jobs via Twitter announcement 
  • 2,500 will lose jobs from Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT acquisition
  • 2,450 will lose jobs when Boohoo takes over Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton
  • ‘Devastated’ staff members claim Arcadia failed to follow correct consultation procedures when making redundancies

More than 150 former staff who lost their jobs when Philip Green’s Arcadia empire collapsed are set to launch a legal battle over their redundancies.

Asos last week announced its £330million takeover of stock in Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands – but not the shops.

Countless ‘disgusted’ employees were officially told they’d lost their jobs when Asos announced the news on Twitter, sparking outrage among the brands’ 2,500-strong workforce.

And a further 2,450 jobs are set to disappear after Boohoo announced it would buy £25.2million-worth of stock from Arcadia’s Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands, leaving 214 stores destined for closures.

Now, ‘devastated’ staff members have claimed Arcadia failed to follow the correct consultation procedures when making redundancies. 

More than 150 former staff who lost their jobs when Philip Green’s Arcadia empire collapsed are set to launch a legal battle over their redundancies. Pictured: Topshop’s Oxford Street store

Asos (its owner Anders Holch Povlsen, right) last week announced its £330million takeover of stock in Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands – but not the shops. Left: Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green

And a further 2,450 jobs are set to disappear after Boohoo (its owner Mahmud Kamani, pictured) announced it would buy £25.2million-worth of stock from Arcadia’s Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands, leaving 214 stores destined for closures

One former Miss Selfridge worker involved in the legal claim – who asked not to be named – said he received the news of redundancies while on a call with a representative from HR.

One former worker at Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store has also said she was asked to volunteer to work until February 12 to help clear stock or face having her wages halted with immediate effect.

Aticus Law, which is representing the staff, said it has also already received calls from workers impacted by Boohoo’s acquisition of Arcadia brands.

The move will see the ex-staff take Arcadia Group to court for their case pursuing a Protective Awards claim for compensation to be heard by an employment tribunal.

If successful, those involved in the challenge will be entitled to up to eight weeks’ worth of pay in compensation, with a cap of £538 per week, the firm said.

Retail bloodbath: How the pandemic changed Britain’s High Street

The High Street has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic as people were told to stay inside for several national lockdowns. 

High Street stalwarts such as Debenhams, WH Smith and Clarks did not escape the bloodbath. 

In August 228-year-old business WH Smith said a dramatic fall in sales could force them to axe around 11 per cent of its workforce.

It was a grim announcement for an already hammered high street after hundreds of jobs were also cut at high street fashion chain M&Co.

The chain also announced the closure of 47 stores, taking the number of workers facing redundancy as a result of the Covid crisis above 100,000. 

Within one week over the summer 651 roles were lost at Byron, 1,700 put at risk at DW Sports, 878 lost at Hays Travel and 1,100 put at risk at Pizza Express.

John Lewis cut a further 1,500 jobs, adding to the 1,300 axed when it permanently shut eight stores in July.

The retail giant was widely seen as a benchmark for High Street performance in the UK. 

Lloyds Bank also announced their decision to make 1,070 more staff redundant on top of the 865 earlier in the pandemic.

Within the same 24 hours Marks & Spencer also reported its first loss in its 94 years as a listed company. The company had already cut 8,000 staff since March.

And Sainsbury’s also confirmed it would cut around 3,500 jobs across its Argos stores and supermarket meat, fish and deli counters, while Clarks shoes put the jobs of all 4,000 of its store staff on notice as part of its fight for survival.

Hannah Stewart-MacCallum of Aticus Law said: ‘This has been a particularly difficult time for the Arcadia Group employees given the huge amount of speculation about whether there would be job losses as a result of the Asos acquisition.

‘Many found themselves continuing to turn up to work every day to process online orders amidst the continued uncertainty.

‘However, despite the time it has taken to complete the deal, we’re receiving calls from former staff who say they were made redundant with immediate effect which, if that is the case, is in breach of employment law.

‘Obviously we’re in the very early investigative stages here, but we’re doing all we can to process the information and ensure people get the support they need.’  

Asos hopes its £330million takeover – which will see 2,500 stores close – will help it grow in the US.  

The brand will ‘look at’ saving Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store, which would be its first and probably only high street shop.

This means the deal announced to the stock market will leave more ‘big holes’ in UK’s ailing high streets as fast fashion companies hoover up collapsed retail brands.

Sir Philip Green’s family will reportedly pocket £50million from the sale of Topshop – yet the shop’s 1,000 suppliers are expected to get less than 1 per cent of any cash owed to them, it has emerged. 

Sir Philip is still worth an estimated £930million despite the disintegration of his retail empire. 

It follows a brutal year for Britain’s highstreets with lockdowns forcing non-essential shops to close and sending already-struggling brands into administration. 

Arcadia – which owns Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Burton – tipped into administration this year, putting 13,000 jobs at risk.

Arcadia’s collapse set off a domino effect with its concessions – including  Topshop and Dorothy Perkins – being were worth £75million-a-year in sales to Debenhams.  

The chain had been in administration since April, but when talks with JD Sports fell through at the end of last year it drew a line under 242 years of trading. 

Online retail giant Boohoo agreed a £55million deal to buy the brand and website of Debenhams – as well as its deal to buy parts of the Arcadia group – but it will not take over the company’s high street shops, which look set to close. 

Sir Philip Green and Kate Moss attend the opening of a Topshop store in New York in 2009 at the height of its success when it was worth around £850million. Now the brand has been sold ‘on the cheap’ to Asos for £330million including its piles of stock

Boohoo – founded by Mahmud Kamani – was thrust into the spotlight this year following accusations its suppliers used sweatshop-style conditions in Leicester to produce cheap clothing during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Workers in a Leicester factory packing clothes destined for Boohoo were being paid far below the minimum wage.

Undercover reporters also found the factory operating during the city’s localised lockdown without social distancing measures in place.

The scandal caused the firm’s shares to plunge by £1.3 billion and prompted a wave of condemnation from politicians and members of the public.

But the company has bounced back as lockdown rules saw non-essential shops shut and shoppers rush to buy online. 

Boohoo owned by Mahmud Kamani (pictured left with Snoop Dogg, Boohoo CEO Carol Kane and his son Samir Kamani in 2018) bought Debenhams last week 

The Asos distribution centre near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. The proposals to snap up French Connection come the same week that Asos announced its £330million takeover of Topshop

Experts called the collapse of Debenhams and Arcadia at the end of last year one of the most ‘devastating’ weeks in the history of British retail.

Up to 25,000 workers were put at risk of redundancy in the space of 12 hours. 

The number of job losses was so large it equated to losing the entire labour force of the UK fishing industry overnight.

It came in addition to thousands of other job losses as a result of the pandemic, which has pushed businesses across all sectors to breaking point. 

Peacocks and Jaeger, which are owned by the Edinburgh Woolen Mill Group, fell into administration last month, putting 21,000 jobs at risk.

Laura Ashley went bust in March while fashion giants Oasis and Warehouse fell into administration in April.

Source: Read Full Article