Sir Philip Green has insisted his Arcadia Group, the UK’s biggest fashion retailer, is well placed to ride out a retail downturn and could use its strong balance sheet to buy weaker competitors.

Arcadia, whose brands include Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, yesterday announced a decline in pre-tax profits from £199.2m to £188.9m in the year to August 30, on sales that fell 0.6 per cent to £1.8bn.

Sir Philip – who has previously bid for Marks and Spencer – is in talks to buy about £2bn of debt in Baugur, the Icelandic investment company that owns much of the UK high street but owes money to failed Icelandic banks.

'If these opportunities come up, we will be able to take advantage, because we have a well-run business,' he said. 'We could use a combination [of bank debt and private income] or we could fund it ourselves.'

The decline in group profit came as a strong performance from Topshop, which is aimed at younger consumers, failed to outweigh the impact of the slowdown.

Financial Times, The Times