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Topshop founder Ralph Halpern dies, age 83

By Rachel Douglass

12 Aug 2022

People

Image: Topshop

The creator of Topshop Ralph Halpern has died at the age of 83, according to reports.

The high street tycoon was the chief executive of menswear retailer Burton Group from the late 1970s to early 1990s.

During this time, he was involved in the establishment of Topshop, which went on to become a notable womenswear chain throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Halpern transitioned the Burton Group from a solely menswear manufacturer by introducing brands such as Dorothy Perkins and Evans, and later adding department stores Debenhams and Harvey Nichols to its portfolio.

In 1986, Halpern was knighted by Margaret Thatcher’s government.

However, he was later ousted by the retail group’s board in 1991, and eventually relocated to Miami, Florida.

After his departure, subsequent CEO John Horner created the Arcadia Group and demerged Debenhams, which was taken over by a private equity group.

Both Arcadia and Debenhams have since collapsed due to the pandemic, and while Debenhams was acquired by Boohoo, Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridges were taken over by online retailer Asos. All of the brands are now online-only operations.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Halpern’s daughter, Jenny Halpern Prince, said of her father’s legacy: “Our father left an irreplaceable mark on the spirit of entrepreneurship and the UK’s retail landscape, and he did it in his own very special way.”

Arcadia
TOPSHOP