It was a terrible ending, wasn't it? We in the NTI newsroom can hardly believe it - after all of that pathos and drama it all sort of ... fizzled out. Yes, The final episode of The Undoing with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant spluttered to a predictable and unsatisfactory conclusion on Sky Atlantic last night. If you have Sky Q'd it and don't want to know the ending, look away now.
While we are about it, Arcadia have spluttered their way into a 'light touch Administration' (which the media are making up as they go along) and Debenhams have not, as yet, been sucked into the black hole of Liquidation, but with the exuent of J D Sports stage door right FRP are left with no other real option (unless Hugh Grant has any good ideas?).
The words of the popular media are interestingly framed when reporting the latest cruel act in the Arcadia farce. They report that 13,000 jobs are at risk, which is always the case, of course, with a poorly run company which has run out of ideas and is pottering along on gas. Philip Green gave up on his great retail 'empire' years ago and, with shoddy produce, no online retail policy, a lack of investment and inability to respond to new and inexperienced competition, this piece was pre-written in the same way as the obituary of the world's oldest man is. Green should be ashamed, of course, but his face and body also shouldn't, by rights, be that colour. However, he won't be and is, respectively.
The BBC have been sucked into this new 'light touch Administration' moniker, reporting it as if it is 'a thing' last night and this morning. It sent a few of us scurrying to our Insolvency Acts to dig out paragraph 64 of Schedule B1; "A company in Administration or an officer of a company in Administration may not exercise a management power without the consent of the Administrator". Any decent CPI student will tell you that in an Administration it is extremely usual for the management to be cast aside, their ineptitude of management being a significant part of the reason Insolvency Practitioners will be looking at Schedule B1 in the first place. Of course, the IP (Deloitte in this case) may consider it right that, with little time and a need to secure assets and a quick sale, the existing management stay in place, supervised as they do so. Whether or not that is the right decision in the case of Arcadia only retail history will reveal, but with the high street and malls opening on Wednesday Top Shop and Miss Selfridge have a lot of dodgy stock to shift, and it is arguable that the current management at least know how to sell a polyester sweater.
It does raise a larger question at Debenhams, of course, whose stores contain a a very large number of Arcadia brand franchises and concessions. With Top Shop bottoming and Miss Selfridge becoming a ragged old spinster, J D Sports withdrew their interest in the chain yesterday, not that they were planning to sell frocks and sweaters anyway, and the Plan Z 'Liquidation' now seems inevitable. FRP were unavailable for comment, as they were on the phone to Lazards.
Could a porcine Mike Ashley step in like a knight in the largest suit of armour ever made to save Debenhams, now that he has shrewdly watched its own suitors reduce to a number less than one? Could the same weasley man do a number on Arcadia? That is all for the next hourly episode of 'The Never (EVER) Ending Retail Story'. Stay tuned.
Oh, and Hugh Grant did it.