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Sir Philip Green loses Arcadia chairman in latest high-profile departure
04 September 2019

Sir Philip Green has been hit by another high-profile departure from his retail empire after it emerged the chairman of Arcadia stepped down on the same day as the group’s chief operating officer.

Interim chairman Jamie Drummond Smith – a restructuring expert – resigned last Friday, according to a company filing on Wednesday.

It comes after it was revealed on Monday that chief operating officer David Shepherd – one of Sir Philip’s key lieutenants – also stepped down on 30 August after more than 25 years with the group.

Drummond Smith was hired on an interim basis in April as the group prepared to embark on a widespread overhaul to shut underperforming stores and cut rents.

Arcadia said his decision to step down was “expected”, given the recent approval of its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal.

But the high-profile departures come amid mounting speculation over the future of Arcadia, after it was reported in the Sunday Times that chief executive Ian Grabiner is laying the groundwork for a break-up of the brand portfolio, which includes Topshop and Dorothy Perkins.

A spokesman for Arcadia said the group is hunting for a permanent chairman to replace Drummond Smith.

Grabiner said: “Jamie was appointed on an interim basis to assist the board through the restructuring options for the group.

“Following the successful completion and approval of the group’s CVAs, Jamie has stepped down from his role.”

Drummond Smith – a former partner at accountancy giant Deloitte – was hired earlier this year alongside fellow restructuring expert Peter Bloxham.

Bloxham was also appointed on an interim basis as a non-executive director, but is understood to be remaining in place for the time being and will support the board as it searches for a new chairman.

There has been a steady stream of senior management losses at Arcadia in recent months.

Earlier this year, businesswoman and TV star Baroness Karren Brady resigned as chairwoman of Taveta Investments, the holding company that owns Arcadia Group.

Non-executive director Sharon Brown left the company at the same time.

Arcadia is in the middle of a restructuring process which will see swathes of stores close and rent bills slashed.

The shake-up comprises 23 store closures in the UK, putting around 1,000 jobs at risk.

Another 25 Miss Selfridge and Evans stores are also in the process of being closed down, while landlords of some remaining shops will be paid a reduced rent bill.

It has also closed 11 Topshop and Topman locations in the US.

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