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For nearly 40 years Topshop’s iconic London flagship store dominated Oxford Circus, loved by women of all ages, from all backgrounds, including the likes of Kate Moss and Beyoncé. When the store shut its doors in 2020 waves of shock and sadness rippled across the country. How could this have happened?

Image credit: Unknown

This new documentary series tells the story of an iconic high street brand, its rise to global dominance and its fall from the dizzy heights of success.

During its time Topshop has ridden the waves of feast and famine. Its success, right up until the last five years on the high street, was rooted in the reinvention and rebranding by a group of creative brains who had made Topshop the go-to store.

Launched in the 1960s in the basement of a dowdy department store in Sheffield, this youth brand struggled to find its place, and by the 80s was known as Flopshop.

But a change in fortune was on its way. It turned out they a secret weapon had joined their ranks: Jane Shepherdson. She rose from lowly distributor to head buyer to brand director. She built a team of visionary women. Their collective mission was to inspire and innovate and transform the brand into a multibillion-pound company.

When Sir Phillip Green bought Arcadia in 2002, Topshop went on to become a global phenomenon, opening stores across the world - and its profits soared. In 2006 he was knighted for services to retail and feted as king of the high street, but within 10 years his empire was crumbling. The hierarchies and corporate culture that had dominated since the 1990s were being challenged, both from within the boardroom and from outside.

What had been successful in the rapidly moving world of retail, stopped working. This new series reveals the stories of those who adapted and thrived, and those who failed to recognise and embrace the changes they needed to survive.

Trouble At Top Shop, a 2x60’ for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.


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