Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green (born 15 March 1952) is a British businessman, and the chairman of Arcadia Group, a retail company that includes Topshop, Topman, Wallis, Evans, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, and Outfit. The BHS department store chain used to be part of the group.
Green has been involved in a number of controversies throughout his professional career, including his actions prior to the demise of BHS. In October 2016, the House of Commons approved a measure to ask the Honours Forfeiture Committee to strip Green of his knighthood for his role in the downfall of BHS.
Green was born on 15 March 1952 in Croydon, south London, into a middle class Jewish family. The son of a successful property developer and retailer, it was his father's business which he was to inherit at the age of 12 upon his death. He has a sister, Elizabeth, five years his senior. His 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 in Oxfordshire.
When his father died of a heart attack, Green 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 backed by his family (or £216,000 in 2014 pounds) at age 21, importing jeans from the far east to sell on to London retailers.
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.
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 and in 1992 he resigned when the company failed to meet its profit forecast.
BHS, Arcadia, Topshop
Next, Green assisted Tina Green in the purchase of the Arcadia Group, which owns High Street chains such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Topshop/Topman and Wallis in 2002. The company was briefly owned by Green but sold to Tina Green within 24 hours, with Philip acting as CEO.
When The Guardian newspaper investigated a proposed takeover of Safeway in 2003, Green responded to queries about Arcadia's accounts by insulting and swearing at the journalists.
Charitable works and other activities
In April 1980, Green registered a philanthropic initiative, the Kahn Charitable Trust, with a vision of "putting lost smiles back on the faces of less privileged persons across the globe."
Green is a supporter of the Fashion Retail Academy and the industry charity Retail Trust. 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 gave the McCanns the use of his private jet to allow them to fly to Rome for a Papal visit.
In 2010, Green donated $465,000 for new beds at the Royal Marsden cancer hospital, after his wife Tina's mother died there. He also spent more than $150,000 for an Alexander McQueen dress at Naomi Campbell's Fashion for Relief charity event.
In the same year, Green donated £100,000 to the Evening Standard's Dispossessed Fund which aims to support London's poorest people.
He was reportedly the BBC's first choice to front the UK franchise of The Apprentice; however, at that time in 2004, he was too busy with Arcadia's attempted takeover of Marks and Spencer.
Two weeks prior to the 2010 general election, Green came out in support of David Cameron, George Osborne and the Conservative Party, stating that Cameron and Osborne "understand what needs to be done. They get it."
In August 2010, Green was asked by Cameron, then recently elected as Prime Minister, to carry out a review of UK government spending and procurement. Green's summary report, Efficiency Review by Sir Philip Green, published in October 2010, alleged significant failings in government procurement processes. The government published the review identifying its main finding as "the Government is failing to leverage both its credit rating and its scale". Cameron welcomes the report, saying ""I think it's a good report, it will save a lot of money and it's important we do it."
Green is based during the week at a London hotel, spending the weekends with his English wife and owner of Arcadia Tina Green and their children Chloe and Brandon in an apartment in Monaco.
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 to perform. For his nephew, Matt, he threw a bar mitzvah at Madame Tussauds, where Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh were guests and One Direction performed. Matt and Chloe shared a birthday party in December 2011, at One Mayfair, where Rihanna sang, and many personal friends of the family attended. The star-studded bash was featured in The Sun newspaper and cost over £1 million. For his 50th birthday, he flew 200 guests in a chartered Airbus A300 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.
Among Green's more extravagant possessions are a £100 million, 90 m (300 ft) Benetti yacht Lionheart and a £20 million Gulfstream G550 private jet. For his birthday, his wife bought him a solid gold Monopoly set, featuring his own acquisitions.
His tax avoidance dividend scheme was criticised by many publications as a return of the "unacceptable face of capitalism"'. A number of tabloids made light of his invitations of many prominent Hollywood figures to his birthday parties, many of whom commented they had not heard of him.
His business hero is Sir Charles Clore, who built the Sears Plc UK retail empire from next to nothing in the 1950s and 1960s.
Green is a football fan and a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. In 1987, he suggested to Irving Scholar, the Spurs chairman, that Tony Berry be appointed to the board. In 1991, he helped Terry Venables raise the last £500,000 needed to purchase shares in the club.
He was also involved in the transfers of Rio Ferdinand from Leeds United and Louis Saha from Fulham to Manchester United.
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 Earl, 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 negotiate player transfer fees with agents.
Green became the target of activist group UK Uncut in November 2010 for alleged corporate tax avoidance. The group targeted Green specifically as a government advisor.
Taveta Investments, the company used to acquire Arcadia in 2002, is in the name of Green's wife, Tina Green, a Monaco resident, resulting in a significantly lower tax liability than the £150 million that would be payable if a UK resident owned the company. When Green paid his family £1.2 billion in 2005, it was paid for by a loan taken out by Arcadia, cutting Arcadia's corporation tax as interest charges on the loan were offset against profits.
Arcadia has been criticised for the pay and conditions of both overseas and UK workers by anti-sweatshop groups such as Labour Behind the Label, No Sweat and the student activist network People & Planet. Green denied allegations in The Sunday Times made during 2007 that his firm used overseas sweatshops where workers in Mauritius were paid pitiful wages. In 2010, Green was again accused of using sweatshops, this time by Channel 4's Dispatches programme. It was asserted that he was using factories in Britain in which workers were paid less than half the legal minimum wage.
In 2003, when The Guardian was conducting an investigation into Green's corporate finances, Green responded to the publication's queries on the subject with a string of expletive-laden outbursts about The Guardian's financial editor, Paul Murphy. Green said: "He can't read English. Mind you, he is a fucking Irishman." He later apologised to the Irish, after customers threatened to boycott his stores.
Demise of BHS
Green bought BHS for £200m in 2000, but the firm performed poorly so he sold it for just £1 in 2015. By April 2016 BHS had debts of £1.3bn, including a pensions deficit of £571m. Despite the deficit of £571m, Green and his family collected £586m in dividends, rental payments and interest on loans during their 15-year ownership of the retailer. Referring to the conduct of Green, Angela Eagle, the shadow business secretary, said: "In this situation it appears this owner extracted hundreds of millions of pounds from the business and walked away to his favourite tax haven, leaving the Pension Protection Scheme to pick up the bill." Simon Walker, the Director General of the Institute of Directors, described Green's "lamentable failure of behaviour" which was deeply damaging to the reputation of business. He then added he that had moral responsibilities to the pension fund and a proper investigation was needed but not one that took years.
Appearance before joint Select Committee meeting
Ahead of a joint Business and Work and Pensions Select Committee meeting, Green called the inquiry biased, and stated that he "therefore required [its chair, Frank Field] to resign". Field pointed out that the size of the pensions deficit is a fact, not a matter of opinion, and that Parliament and not Green decides who chairs Committees.
On 20 October 2016, the House of Commons approved a motion to ask for the Honours Forfeiture Committee to recommend Green's knighthood be "cancelled and annulled". 100 MPs voted in favour of the motion, the first time MPs have proposed someone be stripped of a knighthood.