Arcadia owner Green receives #1.2bn dividend

 

Philip Green, owner of UK retail group Arcadia, yesterday revealed that he had paid himself a £1.2 billion (€1.77 billion) dividend - more than three times the company's annual operating profits.

Arcadia Group, of which Mr Green controls 92 per cent of the shares, will pay a total of £1.3 billion dividends to himself and minority shareholders.

News of the windfall came as Arcadia, which Mr Green bought three years ago to make him the UK's wealthiest private businessman, reported a 10 per cent increase in operating profits before goodwill to £326.1 million on sales of £1.77 billion.

Arcadia's like for like sales rose 1.3 per cent in the year to August 27th.

Mr Green yesterday said that the financial structure of the business, whose outlets include Burton, Dorothy Perkins, TopShop and Miss Selfridge, more than justified the return.

"This is very conventional financing. Forget the scale of the number, it's on a very conservative basis as a ratio to the cash we generate," Mr Green said. "If this was one of the venture capitalists, they'd be taking twice this number."

The group said that conditions on the UK high street remained "challenging and extremely competitive" as it revealed that turnover since the end of August had risen 3 per cent, compared with the same period a year ago.

"This performance has given us the confidence to both pay the dividend and, more importantly, continue the high level of investment in the business," Mr Green said in the statement.

Mr Green, who failed in his attempt to buy Marks & Spencer last year, is likely to face growing questions about his intentions following his latest windfall.

The entrepreneur has built a retail empire that includes some of the most familiar names on the UK high street.

Last year, Mr Green was forced to walk away from a bid for Marks & Spencer after failing to receive the backing of the board for his £9.1 billion indicative offer.

The most recent accounts for Arcadia's Irish operation are for the year to end August 2004 and show that it is making annual pretax profits of more than €18 million from its outlets here.