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Philip Green, owner of, amongst much else, British Home Stores, reached billionaire status faster than anyone else in British history. Today he is worth £3.6 billion and is reckoned to be the country’s fourth richest citizen. A middle-class Jewish boy from North London who left school at fifteen, Green started and failed with four businesses before he made it with Jean Jeannie, which he sold to Lee Cooper for an enormous profit that set him on the road to fame and fortune. But there were pitfalls on the way, his involvement with Amber Day, a public company, left him with an abiding dislike for both the City establishment and outside investors. Ever since, he has relied upon a close group of like-minded entrepreneurs, including the Barclay twins, to help fund his buccaneering forays into Britain’s High Streets. The authors describe Green’s takeover and highly profitable break up of the Sears empire and his first audacious attempt to seize control of Marks & Spencer at the end of 1999. Green then turned his attention to the ailing BHS, for which he paid a mere £200 million and then transformed its fortunes to such an extent that, in 2004, he was able to transfer dividends totalling £400 million to his Monaco tax haven. His appetite unsated, Green then turned his attention to the Arcadia Group, which included brands such as Miss Selfridge, Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins before making another bid for M&S in 2004. Again he was foiled, partly because of what he saw as treachery on the part of his former protégé Stuart Rose, the man who was appointed by M&S to see off Green’s bid.

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