Fears loss of Arcadia group could have significant impact on Norfolk high streets
- Credit: Ella Wilkinson
Norfolk and Waveney could see up to 43 well-known stores disappear from the high street as Sir Philip Green's famous retail empire hangs in the balance.
It comes as the Arcadia Group, owner of brands including Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Burton, is believed to be nearing administration.
Last-ditch talks over an emergency loan, which included a bid by House of Fraser and Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, are believed to have failed. Around 15,000 jobs are believed to be at risk in total.
Across Norfolk and Waveney, the impact of the retail firm's battle could see a staggering 43 shops gone, leaving a gaping hole in the local economy.
Other stores also owned by Arcadia include Dorothy Perkins, Outfit, Wallis and Evans.
Retail analyst professor Joshua Bamford, director for the Centre of Retail Research, in Norwich's Rose Lane, said: "This situation is a lot more than gloomy, it's a death sentence for the high street.
"If some of these stores disappear, the whole 'raison d'etre' for shopping in the high street disappears. Norwich will be okay but places like King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth, satellite areas, will be badly affected.
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"If people think there aren't any of the main fashion multiples to go to, they'll think 'let's go somewhere else'. In the case of King's Lynn, shoppers may go to Cambridge instead so the county loses the spend altogether."
He said Sir Philip had ignored the "existence of online competition".
"The business was doing well in the 2000s for it but it needed to keep investing in the shops and the design of its clothing like competitors Primark and ASOS," he said. "Look at how Zara has taken over the market too, but Arcadia just didn't do this."
Locally, the group has 43 stores across Norfolk and Waveney, in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn, Lowestoft and Beccles with another seven in the rest of Suffolk, in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.
The group has more than 500 retail stores across the UK.