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Retail Tycoon Green Plans U.K. Factories as Costs Rise in Asia

U.K. Retailing Billionaire Philip Green
U.K. retailing billionaire Philip Green gestures during the Retail Week conference in London. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

U.K. retailing billionaire Philip Green said he’s looking at opening factories in the U.K. as sourcing costs in the Far East climb as much as 15 percent.

Green’s company, Arcadia Group Ltd., is “having a look at what possibilities are there in terms of U.K. production,” he said on the sidelines of the Retail Week conference in London late today. He said he’s considering reopening “dormant factories.”

Arcadia has about 3,000 owned and franchised outlets in more than 30 countries including Topshop fashion stores. It sources only a “very small” amount of its products from the U.K., with the remainder from factories in 32 other countries.

The retailer ruled out buying any of the retail assets that are up for sale by Icelandic banks, Green said. Aurora Fashions, the U.K. fashion retailer that is majority owned by Iceland’s failed Kaupthing Bank Hf, plans to split off its Karen Millen unit, a step that may lead to the sale of its largest, most profitable business, the company said this month.

The billionaire opened his first Topshop store in the U.S. last year and has outlined plans for further outlets in Canada, Japan, Brazil and Australia, said he has 500 store leases in the U.K. that expire over the next three years that he wants to come out of.

“We’re going to have some very interesting dialogue” with our landlords, he said. “At the same time we want to grow our international business.”

Green said the U.K. retail market is “tough,” citing higher wage and raw materials costs.

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