When that big house down the road, behind the faded rusty gates, went up for sale after 25 years hiding within its own mystery, a number of local carpet-treaders booked viewings with the estate agent commissioned to lead the sale. What was behind the doors? Were the rumours true about a kitchen you could land a plane in? What was the room in the turret really like? Locals formed a queue down the road, but none of them wanted to buy. They just wanted to gawp.
It appears to be the same with Arcadia. There is nothing particularly mysterious about the D-List celebrity owner in children’s shoes, but of the 30 companies that have registered an interest with Deloitte, the Administrators of Arcadia, most of them just want to flick through his books and peek behind the tatty curtain at the fallen empire of a man some can’t help admiring and loathing in equal measure.
Amidst those is Next, one of the shrewd winners of this year of Covid retail devastation. The British company is exploring a joint takeover of Green’s collapsed retail empire with an American investment firm, the snappily named David Kempner Investment Management.
The American vehicle would provide the funding for a takeover of the whole of the Arcadia business alongside Next, meaning the chain would face limited financial exposure despite taking on the majority of Topshop’s stores.
Next have local form, securing a deal in September out of which they own 51 per cent of Victoria’s Secret (half a pink lace teddy and some strange looking ‘plug device’), partnering up with L Brands. Next might have a battle on their hands with Shein, a Chinese fast-fashion group, who are a late entrant in the bidding process. Boohoo are also in there, as are Authentic Brands and (maybe most peculiarly) Barney’s of New York.
Oh, and what is that dark, lumpen mass on the horizon scouting from a distance? Mike Ashley, returned from his holiday in the Maldives, a giant Toblerone sticking out of his hand luggage, is snuffling around the backsides of other bidders like a mongrel on a rubbish heap. That man has so many fingers in so many pies; but he is the only one we know who eats the pies from around his fingers to reflect on the podginess within.