Sir Philip Green’s retail empire is facing collapse within days, putting 15,000 jobs at risk and bringing the curtain down on the high street career of one of Britain’s most controversial businessmen.

It is understood that Arcadia Group – which owns TopShop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins – is preparing to appoint administrators from Deloitte as soon as next week.

One retail industry figure said Arcadia’s collapse had become inevitable after talks with a number of lenders about an emergency £30m loan ended without success.

The appointment of administrators could happen as early as Monday, although one person close to the situation said the plan had yet to be finalised and that it could yet be delayed.

If the insolvency is confirmed, it is expected to trigger a scramble among creditors to get their hands on the company’s assets.

It would involve Arcadia’s online operations and the stores which are … Read the rest

Gyms have been among COVID-19’s most dramatically impacted victims, due to the transmission risks of packing heavily breathing people into a confined space for hours at a time. But there’s one thing the pandemic hasn’t changed: It’s still exasperatingly difficult to get out of a gym contract.

Fitness clubs have long relied on long-term membership agreements to prevent flighty customers from abandoning their New Year’s resolutions without a financial penalty. But given the public health considerations of the coronavirus pandemic, gyms’ generally stringent membership cancelation policies—specifically, requirements that members must visit a physical location or send a certified letter to terminate their contracts—have come into relief.

Information on outbreaks linked to gyms paints a hazy picture. Since the summer, numerous COVID-19 outbreaks have been tied to fitness centers, including ones in Elmhurt, Ill., San Diego, and Hawaii’s Oahu island.

Data released by the Minnesota Department of Health … Read the rest

Spanish lender Banco Sabadell has said it will consider options for its UK bank TSB after it called off a planned merger with rival BBVA.

Sabadell and BBVA said they were in merger talks less than two weeks ago, but they failed to agree a price.

Sabadell said it would now seek “strategic alternatives for creating value with regard to the group’s international assets, including TSB”.

It did not specify if that would mean selling TSB, which it bought in 2015.

Separately, TSB said it had “good momentum” in its business growth as well as progress in “taking full control of our IT, delivering a right-sized modern branch network and reducing overall operating costs”.

In January, it signed a deal with US computing giant IBM to run its online banking, bank systems and cash machines, in an attempt to put a stop to the IT failures that have plagued the … Read the rest

New York-based businesswoman Ruth Harrigan usually sells her honey and beeswax products in souvenir shops. But with Covid-19 pausing tourism, she’s been almost entirely dependent on Facebook ads to drive online sales. On Nov. 11, this new financial lifeline was abruptly cut when the social media company blocked her HoneyGramz ad account for violating its policies. She couldn’t imagine what about her tiny honey-filled gifts would have triggered the problem.

Friends told Harrigan to just wait a couple of days and the problem might resolve itself. She waited, until she lost an estimated $5,000 in revenue.

“I was getting a little anxious thinking, ‘Oh my God, Black Friday is around the corner, most of my sales for the year happen in November and December and that’s it,’” she explained. “I said, ‘If I’m shut down any longer than this, it’ll cripple me.’”

Harrigan is one of millions of small business … Read the rest

Our mission to make business better is fueled by readers like you. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.

For decades, Switzerland has been a favorite headquarters for global corporations, and for good reason: It transformed its tiny Alpine country into an economic powerhouse, in good part by keeping business secrets and asking few questions.

But that could be about to change—as soon as this weekend.

In a nationwide referendum on Sunday, Swiss voters will decide whether companies headquartered there should be held legally liable for whatever environment wreckage and human rights abuses occur as a result of their operations, no matter where. The so-called Business Responsibility Initiative, or BRI as the Swiss call it, has been nearly a decade in the making, and would compel companies to report on non-financial aspects involved in every part of their global supply chain—a potentially mammoth undertaking for giants like … Read the rest

Another 1,300 pub sector job cuts were announced today as Mitchells & Butlers became the latest operator to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

M&B, which owns brands including All Bar One and Harvester, said it had made 1,300 workers redundant and closed a small number of sites owing to reduced trade.

It said that the cuts had come “despite our best efforts to protect as many jobs as we can”, and represented only 3 per cent of its total workforce of 43,000.

News of the cuts came as Fuller, Smith & Turner confirmed its previously announced decision to cut about 350 jobs, although it said it had managed to redeploy about 250 workers whose jobs were at risk of redundancy. Most of the big pub groups have laid off staff: Greene King cutting 800 jobs, Marston’s cutting 2,150 and JD Wetherspoon losing about 550.

The M&B job cuts came as … Read the rest

Prior to 1980, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 maintained a strict separation between our banking system and our capital markets. However, financial regulators opened loopholes in Glass-Steagall during the 1980s and 1990s, allowing banks to engage in securities activities and permitting nonbanks to offer bank-like products. 

“Universal banks” (banks engaged in securities activities) and “shadow banks” (nonbanks offering bank-like services) dominated our financial markets after Congress repealed Glass-Steagall in 1999. Universal banks and shadow banks played leading roles in the toxic subprime lending boom that led to the financial crisis of 2007–09.

In response to the financial crisis, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve bailed out big banks as well as large shadow banks (including AIG, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs). Federal agencies also protected short-term financial instruments that functioned as substitutes for bank deposits, such as money market mutual funds, commercial paper, and securities repurchase agreements … Read the rest

Netflix will boost its spend on making TV shows in the UK to $1bn (£750m) this year as the streaming giant maintains the breakneck pace of its production pipeline despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Netflix, which makes shows such as The Crown and Sex Education in the UK, has increased its budget by 50% from the £500m it spent on British-made films and TV shows last year. Netflix UK had originally estimated a spend of about £400m last year, but ended up investing about £100m more.

The BBC’s total annual content budget across TV, radio and online hit £2.3bn in the year to the end of March. Within this, spend on TV content was £1.6bn. ITV spends about £1.1bn annually on content for its portfolio of channels.

Netflix’s UK budget has been invested in making more than 50 TV shows and films in 2020, against the backdrop of a UK production … Read the rest

The 2020 holiday season is going to be a little different, to say the least. We won’t be traveling. We won’t be hosting cocktail parties or soirees. And many of us won’t be able to visit our loved ones. But what we can still do is give a special gift, and let those near and dear to us know we’re thinking about them.

Photograph by Jarren Vink; Styling by Alex Silva

The Homebody

Explore a world of new tastes.

Clockwise from top left:
Our Place The Always Pan The pan that took Instagram by storm. Sauté, steam, sear, or sizzle; $150.
Poketo Jazz up a picnic or dinnertime at home with these designer bamboo plates in a variety of bold designs; $48 for four.
Group Partner Faces Planter Whimsy up a houseplant. Designed in Brooklyn and made in Portugal. ;$65.
Sabah Shearling Babas Turkish-made slippers for warming winter toes; … Read the rest

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has snubbed calls to support thousands of small businesses in England on the brink of collapse that would have benefited from financial help in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to an all-party group of MPs.

Hairdressers, cleaners and people who started self-employment before the pandemic hit are amongmore than 1 million workers who have missed out on government support in England, the Treasury select committee said.

This contrasts with efforts made in all the other countries of the UK to fill in the gaps left by the furlough scheme and the self-employment income support scheme, which only applies to those who have registered as self-employed since April 2018.

In a letter to Sunak highlighting the committee’s growing frustration with the Treasury’s stance, the committee’s chair, Mel Stride, called on the chancellor to adopt measures the MPs set out in a report published in the summer … Read the rest