Sir Philip Green was doggedly upbeat about the prospects for British retailing yesterday, in spite of a 40 per cent slump in operating profits at his BHS clothing and homewares chain.

The retail billionaire, chewing on grilled chicken and salad at his offices just off Oxford Street in central London, was resolute in his refusal to be glum about Christmas, even after warning in April that these were 'some of the toughest markets I’ve ever seen'.

'What is the point of being negative?' he asked. 'We have 40,000 people. If I let my head go down I have nowhere to go.'

'Are there concerns? Yes. Is there going to be a British banking collapse? No. Do I think there has been too much of the media scaring people? Yes I do. Aren’t we better off trying to create some stability to get back on track?'

Sir Philip said trade had picked up in recent days, which has given him some encouragement that Christmas will not be a total wash-out.

Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph