Book in the news: the rise and fall of a high-street tycoon

Philip Green with Beyoncé and Cara Delevingne
Green with Beyoncé (left) and Cara Delevingne

Cover of Damaged GoodsDamaged Goods: The Inside Story of Sir Philip Green, the Collapse of BHS and the Death of the High Street
Oliver Shah
Portfolio Penguin, £18.99
(Buy at Amazon)

Philip Green is now a pariah due to his role in the bankruptcy of department-store chain BHS. So it is not surprising that Damaged Goods is sharply critical of him. It is also “a sweeping, detailed, colourful account of the rise and fall of the king of the UK’s high street, complete with a Dickensian cast of grifters, charlatans [and] flunkies”, says Andrew Hill in the Financial Times. The fall of BHS is the key theme of this “meticulously researched book”, says James Gourley in The Sunday Times.

However, Shah also looks at “the rise of Topshop to become a global brand”, as well as “the increasingly glitzy functions and parties hosted by the tycoon, attracting everyone from Bill Clinton to Beyoncé”. Overall, he suggests that Green’s biggest mistake was to try to transform himself from “a seriously underrated businessman with some interesting contacts to someone who was now mixing in a world of celebrities”.

Both his parents were successful businesspeople who imbued him with “a close understanding of the stockmarket and an irrepressible chutzpah”, says The Guardian’s Tim Adams. Green also benefited from “the credit-card bonanza that fuelled a retail boom”. But he would be brought low by his “inability to see change”, especially the rise of online retailing.