British retail giant Arcadia to close up to 260 shops

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British retail giant Arcadia, owner of a string of high-street clothes shops, said on Thursday it planned to close up to 260 stores over the next three years after announcing a big fall in profits.

The group, whose chains include clothes retailers Top Shop, Top Man and Miss Selfridge, and department store BHS, said it would not renew leases when they expired on some of its around 2,500 shops in Britain.

Arcadia boss Philip Green made the announcement after the group reported a near 40-percent slump in annual profits.

Underlying pre-tax profits tumbled to £133 million ($206 million, 155 million euros) in the group's 2010/2011 financial year. That compared with profit of £213 million last time around.

"We have got... 450 or 460 stores where leases expire in the next three years," Green told the BBC.

"And I think on our latest summary we will close more than half of those on lease expiry. So I would say, I would expect us to close 250, 260."

Green, whose group also includes clothes retailers Burton and Dorothy Perkins, said warm weather had made conditions difficult for the high street.

"It's been the hottest October and November in history," adding that "winter goods are tough."

Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index, said: "Store group Arcadia reminds everyone that the British consumer is still generally AWOL, with no likelihood of a quick return."

© 2011 AFP

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