Trouble At Topshop | Preview (BBC Two)
It’s the eve of the millennium, and hope is in the air. Topshop, under the leadership of brand director Jane Shepherdson, is making a name for itself as a place where celebrities and models brush shoulders with school kids - all in search of the brand’s cool and cutting-edge fashion.
In an industry traditionally dominated by men, Topshop is doing something different: women are creating desirable and affordable clothes for women. And what Jane and her team are selling, everyone is buying.
Half a mile from Topshop’s central London store, Philip Green, an ambitious retailer determined to make a name for himself, has his sights set on the BHS, a struggling department store that is ripe for a takeover.
Within months of taking charge, the brand’s fortunes have been transformed, and Philip Green has become a household name. His reputation as a shrewd risk-taker who can spot a bargain is growing - as is his ambition to expand his empire.
This he does in 2002, when he seizes the opportunity to do a deal for Arcadia - Topshop’s parent company. When the deal is finalised, Arcadia is owned by his wife’s company, Taveta Investments, which puts him in charge of some of the high street’s biggest names.
The stage is set for a battle for the soul of Topshop. Green is the antithesis of Jane Shepherdson, and rumours of intimidating behaviour and cost-cutting precede his arrival.
But Jane is determined to create a bulletproof dome around the brand she and her team have built. And for a few years, her strategy works. Topshop is making a lot of money for Arcadia, and Green is enjoying the attention this prestige brand brings.
By 2005, Green and his wife, Tina, have become fixtures on the Sunday Times Rich List; celebrities flock to his parties, and as Topshop launches on the London Fashion Week calendar, Green enjoys the brand’s success.
If any more evidence is needed that Green is now the undisputed 'king of the high street', he is knighted for services to the retail industry.
Topshop is at the height of its powers and respected across the fashion industry, but everything is about to change. Sir Philip Green is now the decision maker, and in 2006 he signs Kate Moss to design a collection. The balance of power is tipping in Green’s favour.
Jane Shepherdson - along with some of her most trusted talent – have decided it’s time to leave. Topshop is now in Green’s hands – and its success or failure will be his alone.
Begins Monday 26th September at 9pm on BBC Two.