Billionaire Philip Green, owner of the Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis fashion chains, called for the government to extend Sunday opening hours in December to help U.K. shops and meet the needs of consumers.
“In the four weeks over Christmas, where people need a bit more time to do their Christmas shopping, they’re working all week, I get it,” Green said in an interview at the World Retail Congress in London today. During the rest of the year, extended hours on Sunday aren’t needed, he said.
The U.K. government allowed retailers to open for more than the six-hour limit on Sundays over the eight weekends around the Olympic and Paralympic Games to boost growth. Green said the U.K. is a “tough marketplace,” where retailers have to work harder than ever to lure consumers. U.K. retail sales fell 0.2 percent in August, the Office of National Statistics said today.
“I think the consumers are more discerning than ever, there’s more choice, there’s obviously many more ways to shop,” Green said. “Our focus is our supply chain being sharper than ever, making sure we’ve got regular newness across all of our businesses, not just Topshop.”
Green’s comments on Sunday trading hours contrast with Sainsbury Plc Chief Executive officer Justin King who sees the current restrictions “as a good British compromise.” William Morrison Supermarkets Plc CEO Dalton Philips has called for extended hours on the Sunday before Dec. 25 to help shoppers.
Green said that when temperatures dropped 8 degrees last week, knitwear sales surged 20 percent, “so it’s a really challenging market place.”
Green is looking to open stores in China and India with flagship shops. In the U.S., where Topshop has just opened its first concession spaces inside Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) department stores “it’s early days, but it looks interesting,” he said.
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