They say a week is a long time in politics and in retail it is long enough for the face of the British high street to be changed almost entirely. But this monumental change does not look like it will come about quite as quickly as retail mogul Sir Philip Green would have liked.
With Icelandic investor Baugur struggling to hold on to its business, Sir Philip jetted off to the volcanic island state last weekend with a proposed rescue deal, which he hoped to be able to conclude within 48 hours. At a stroke it would have boosted his already burgeoning high street brand portfolio – potentially adding names such as Oasis, Karen Millen and Warehouse to a list that includes Topshop and Miss Selfridge.
However, word has it Green’s first offer was not as warmly received as he might have hoped – turns out they were not that desperate – and Gordon Brown’s freezing of certain Icelandic assets made a complex situation even more tricky to navigate. Before long others, including private equity houses Permira, TPG and Alchemy, had entered the fray, prolonging the proceedings further.
What Green has in his favour is easy access to cash so he may yet land his prize. The prospect of Green gaining the Baugur fashion brands is an interesting scenario to contemplate, particularly if you are Whistles CEO Jane Shepherdson, whose relationship with Green has been frosty since she departed Topshop two years ago.
For the moment that reunion with her old boss is understood to be on ice since Icelandic bank Glitnir’s stake in Whistles is frozen preventing the business from changing hands; probably not this week anyway. Next week, however, who knows?