Unite calls for government high street strategy as Arcadia faces administration

The government needs to set out a post-COVID strategy to revive Britain’s ailing high streets, as retail giant Arcadia faces the prospect of administration.

Unite made the call as media reports said that administrators for the company, run by controversial retail tycoon Sir Philip Green, could be appointed tomorrow on Monday 30 November, putting 13,000 jobs at risk.

Unite regional officer, Debbie McSweeney, said: “This news from Arcadia is another bitter blow for the UK’s non-food retail sector, and is deeply worrying for our members and their families in the run-up to Christmas.

“The decline of the UK’s high streets has been happening for some years, but the onset of the pandemic and two national lockdowns has accelerated this trend.

“We call on the government to redouble its efforts to formulate a radical post-COVID-19 blueprint to revive the country’s ailing town centres and high streets. Such a strategy is desperately needed as high streets underpin the social fabric of our communities.

“Unite is strongly committed to ensuring that our members receive their full notice and redundancy pay, should the next step be administration.”

In September, Unite won a victory after campaigning to get Arcadia to pay full salaries for head office staff facing redundancy.

The row had erupted when the media highlighted the fact that Arcadia, whose high street brands include Topman, Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, was originally only going to pay its head office staff 50 per cent of their notice pay – this was reversed after Unite pressure.

In July, Arcadia announced that it was cutting 500 jobs from its 2,500 strong head office workforce.