Success Stories

Success Stories: Philip Green

Following London Fashion Week 2012 Wholesale Scout focus this success story on one of the UK’s biggest fashion businessmen, Philip Green.

Unknown to many, Green started his road to success with a small wholesale buying business and a big loan.

Green was born in Croydon, South London and began his career at the tender age of 15. After leaving boarding school he went on to work for a shoe importer before deciding to start his own business.

At 15 years old he took out a loan of £20, 000 to start a wholesale business. Green spent his time sourcing and buying jeans. He worked on importing them from the Far East and subsequently sold them on to retailers for competitive prices.

In 1979 the entrepreneur spotted an opportunity to buy large bulks of stock at low prices – mainly from clothes sellers who had gone into liquidation. The clothes consisted of designer brands and after purchasing and cleaning the goods, Green sold them on to the general public.

The self-made billionaire began to make his mark on the industry during the 90’s. He started out buying a number of different department stores including purchasing sports retailer Olympus. Although he purchased the store when it had £30m worth of debt, he later sold it on to JJB Sports for a whopping £550m.

In 1999 Green and his wife Tina attempted to purchase department chain Marks and Spencer and when this was unsuccessful they went on to purchase BHS. British Home Stores’ profits have steadily increased since Green took over ownership.

He is perhaps most well known for purchasing and becoming CEO of the Arcadia Group, which currently owns stores like Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge. The company now makes yearly estimated profits of over £350m.

Although starting out with a small wholesale business, Green is now one of the most recognised entrepreneurs in the fashion industry today. And he’s backing other British entrepreneurs too. Speaking during London Fashion Week earlier this week he re-affirmed the contribution British fashion designers have had on the UK economy and said the UK needs to get behind its talent.

He said: “Topshop is renewing its 10-year sponsorship of Newgen (a scheme to help young designers) and will be personally getting behind this. We want to produce two to three people we can take on to the world stage.”

He also encouraged retailers to source goods from suppliers in the UK and spoke of his plans to set up a manufacturing academy – to train fashion entrepreneurs across the country.

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