1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Rag Trade to Riches
This informative and very competent biography of Philip Green was published in 2005 by Lansley and Forrester, who are both business journalists. By 2005 Philip Green had made two unsuccessful attempts at taking over Marks and Spencer. He dominated the High Street by the purchase of Bhs and Arcadia (Top Shop, Burton, Evans, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Miss Selfridge),...
Published 23 months ago by Mac McAleer
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather boring
I thought I would give this book a go and at times, I did get into it. Other times it was laborious and hard work. I wanted to learn from this book and Philip Green but I didn't. There is incredible detail which is unnecessary and by the time I was about 1/3 of the way through the book, I could already see a pattern of how things would develop and I was right. 2/3 of the...
Published on 12 Dec 2009 by Mr. Richard D. Cale
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Rag Trade to Riches,
This informative and very competent biography of Philip Green was published in 2005 by Lansley and Forrester, who are both business journalists. By 2005 Philip Green had made two unsuccessful attempts at taking over Marks and Spencer. He dominated the High Street by the purchase of Bhs and Arcadia (Top Shop, Burton, Evans, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Miss Selfridge), and had converted both from publicly quoted companies to private ones, registered off-shore.
Despite his aggressive manner in business and his infamous use of foul language Philip Green is no East End barrow boy made good but the son of entrepreneurial parents in North London. His formidable mother has been credited with introducing launderettes and self-service petrol stations into the country. Leaving his expensive boarding school with no academic qualifications he spent many years in the shoe and rag trade, not always successfully.
When success came he allowed himself to be bought out by a publicly quoted company. His management style did not change and he treated the public company as a private one. This was unacceptable behaviour and it all ended in tears. From then on he avoided taking any company public.
He has formidable focus on detail, particularly on costs. He often starts at the price-point at which his customers are willing to buy and works backwards up the supply chain whilst retaining quality and style. His early expertise gained importing from Hong Kong has served him well and with high volumes he is able to go into the global manufacturing market place and order direct, cutting out the wholesalers. He is also good at management by walking about and does not live in managerial isolation.
He has asset stripped companies in the past, seeing more value in the parts than in the whole, but also because it was necessary to pay back the money borrowed to make the deal. However, with Bhs and Arcadia he has kept control and managed the businesses, squeezing out the costs. At heart he is both a deal maker and a retailer. His main challenge will be the death of the High Street. Whether he can adapt to out-of-town shopping and the Internet remains to be seen.
His business determination and rag trade nous has brought him to his current position in the High Street and he has become a very wealthy man. He now controls his empire from a domicile in Monaco, unencumbered by any irritation of personal taxation.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Britains real Power is Business Not the Politics of Whitehall,
An intresting read but then Green is an intresting character an intresting flawed a character but non the less a major flair player in British power games.
This bio starts as you'd expect with Green's early life. Despite his barrow boy persona readers who know little about his formative years will be surprised to learn of his upper middle class background and his Mother being a catalyst in his first Business venture. The bio ends during the time he launched his audacious bid for control of M&S. There are not too many pages and with a colourful, maverick character as a subject it is a page turner which is accessible to a reader who has no experience of Business. The style is lean and to the point and the writer is fair to his subject although Green is ultimately a somewhat elusive figure in comparison to a more public figure such as Alan Sugar. Despite his sharp piercing wit he gives little a way the writer manages to build up a clear picture of Green and the world he inhibits, in addition laying bare the facts that this country's political system is wrongly in awe of Green and his Business elite.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Business Icon's Candid Biography,
This review is from: Top Man: How Philip Green Built His High Street Empire (Hardcover)
Authors Stewart Lansley and Andy Forrester do a good job of crafting the story of Philip Green, who bullied, connived, intimidated, schemed, blustered and outworked his way to the top of the heap in British retailing. The son of "business-obsessed" parents, Green learned the value of driving a hard bargain early in life. He specialized in buying goods at distressed prices so that later he could appear gracious when he sold them for a low price and put a tidy profit in his pocket. As the authors deftly portray, Green was a master of retail haggling. In fact, one disappointment is that the book doesn't deviate from its "business-icon biography" mode to delve more deeply into the attitudes and techniques that made Green a killer dealmaker. Guile, intimidation and ruthlessness no doubt played major roles. The authors do a thorough, creditable job of telling the inside story of how Green clawed his way to his current rank as Britain's fifth richest person. At times, however, they focus too much on internal political intricacies that may not interest most readers. That said, we recommend this interesting portrait of a retail tycoon whose whims still affect the daily lives of tens of thousands of Brits.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will love the book but not the man!,
Well written, well researched and very honest. Mr Green does come across as a ruthless man which is not so suprising. But he appears to have been ruthless from a very early age.
Some early detail is missing, he seems to go from no cash to lots of cash to bankrupt to a millionaire within a few pages and I find those bits more interesting than some of the other more flash bits.
I enjoyed this book, my wife enjoyed it and it is going to be passed on to friends an I believe they will love it.
I would recomend this book as a great read but by the end you might think that Mr Green is more than just a party loving guy who sells cheap dresses to teenagers. Wow, pray he does not come after your business!
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather boring,
I thought I would give this book a go and at times, I did get into it. Other times it was laborious and hard work. I wanted to learn from this book and Philip Green but I didn't. There is incredible detail which is unnecessary and by the time I was about 1/3 of the way through the book, I could already see a pattern of how things would develop and I was right. 2/3 of the way through I put the book down and filed it in my bookcase.
I wanted to learn from the master but the information just didn't come through...
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Man - Top Dog!!,
I found it hard to put the book down. This was a great insight into the world and antics of Phil Green and his business antics. A great read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book,
Well worth a read for anyone considering going into business or for anyone who needs a little inspiration. Great value too.
4.0 out of 5 stars A deep insight into such a talented man,
I have read this book several times. It gives an intelligent insight into such a talented man, who is probably the greatest retailer of his generation. If you want to read a in-depth book about Green, then this book might be what you are looking for. Some information in the book could have been presented in a more interesting way, however.
3.0 out of 5 stars whitty, interesting but...,
but this book isn't written by philip green - it's all hear say and 'stories'. saying that i am probably being quite harsh, as the book does describe philip green as total character - favourite story is how after a person had really annoyed him, the person knew he was philips 'mate' again because philip rung him and called him ac-word down the phone... enough said.
5.0 out of 5 stars I found the book fascinating and I read it in about 24 hours,
I had never heard of Philip Green up until a couple of years ago, not that he is that well known to the general public even now. The most amazing thing about him is how much money he has made in such a short period of time.
They say just over a decade ago he was a rag trader a mere multimillionaire and barely known. He is now worth £4.5 billion and is estimated to be Britain's fifth richest person. He made his first billion in record time and then went on to quadruple his wealth in a few years.
He now owns via a private company Bhs and Burton, Miss Selfridge and Topshop about 2,500 shops in all.
In 2004 he became well known as he tried to take over Marks and Spencer which had been the crown jewels of British retailing but has been languishing for the last few years. It would have cost over £11 billion.
The book explains how he made his money and his drive and determination.
He lives in Monaco and all his wealth is in his wife's name so he pays no taxes on it. He is abrasive, vulgar and uses a lot of expletives. No one would speak about him on the record and the book was unauthorised.
He has had some outrageously expensive birthday bashes where he jets out people to lavish parties.
It was interesting that he had a few friends in his early years that turned out to be less than straight but now the city has taken him to their hearts and they are prepared to lend him money.
Although these books depict successful businessmen as being individualists they always get there by having a team of people they use all the time. No one can make it entirely on their own.
His first few business ventures failed owing a lot of money so not everything he touched turned to gold.
He was badly stung in one of his early ventures as he ran a public company and was criticised for running like he owned it entirely. He learnt from that not to go public again.
His technique was to buy things at a good price break them up and sell them off at a profit. He claims he is the greatest retailer ever but his is accused of not being someone who can actually improve the sale figures.
He started buying up part of the Sears group, which had been built up by Charles Clore. Clare's formula was taken on by Green "Stabilise management, increase margins, increase the profits."
He successfully does this every time. He is accused of not being able to increase sales but the main way that other people did was by reducing prices, reducing margins and selling more to increase turnover but not the profits.
Clore recognised that many firms were grossly undervalued on the stock market. That is they had assets that were more valuable than their stock market listing. As a result he bought up shoe shops such as Freeman Hardy and Willis, Saxone, Dolcis, Manfield, Trueform, Cable & Co, Hush Puppy and others.
Clore bought the business rationalises them and sold off surplus property and became very rich. After Clore died the company stagnated and Green started buying them to do the same again.
He started getting rich backers for his schemes because they could see that he would make them a lot of money.
He reckoned that in the 1990s you could go to Oxford Street shops to see how they were getting on " You could walk into a shop with a machine gun fire off a whole clip of ammunition and you wouldn't hit a customer"
M&S had in 1997 record profits of £1 billion but two years later sales had slipped and profits had halved. In about two years the value of the company had halved. Green started to stalk M&S. Eventually it failed but his banker had pulled out and there had been a barrage of negative press.
He turned his attention to Bhs and got it. He reorganised it and it became the basis of his fortune.
He repaid the borrowing in record time. He took on the suppliers and squeezed them Also he cut costs, he improved decision making. This time he kept the company intact. He remortgaged a handful of stores repaid his bankers and made a tidy profit. After that he became a billionaire. He did this in less than a decade. In 2000 he was 216th on the rich list in 2001 he was 159th. Over the next year he overtook Richard Branson.
As a private company he does not have to tell people his profits but he liked to boast about it. He wrung better deals out of suppliers and bought direct. He improved the speed of supply, as it was fashion industry.
He did a lot of the negotiating himself he sources goods as cheaply as possible and sells on at the best margin. He buys cheap and sells expensive.
He bought Bhs and Arcadia and one of his colleagues Sir David Barclay said Philip only think about the quantum leap what he meant was to only go for very large scale take overs. That is why he went again for M&S and failed again in 2004.
They constantly said they he is a one trick pony in that he can engineer businesses to have a healthy bottom line but not to muster top line growth. They mean he is not able to increase sales.
He does not seem able to start businesses from scratch like Branson and Stelios and James Dyson he said it is easier to rebuild than build
His skills are in deal making and improving processes
He has yet to demonstrate that he has the most crucial skill that is to increase sales. He still has to make the quantum leap.
I found the book fascinating and I read it in about 24 hours.
It proves that you are better off making deals than thinking up brand new ideas or businesses. He is Britains fifth richest person and he is still being criticised for not being able to increase sales. What more do they want?
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Top Man: How Philip Green Built His High Street Empire by Stewart Lansley (Hardcover - 27 Oct 2005)
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