High street tycoon and Topshop founder Sir Ralph Halpern dies
The high street tycoon and a leading force in British retail during the 1970s and 1980s has died at the age of 83, The Financial Times reports.
Sir Ralph Halpern, known as the “king of the high street” , created Topshop in 1964 and was CEO of the Burton Group from 1979 to 1991. At its peak the wider Burton Group included department stores Debenhams and Harvey Nichols.
The retail titan began his high street career at Selfridges before going on to oversee some of the country’s biggest retailers.
Sir Ralph, who was knighted by Margaret Thatcher’s Government in 1986, was perhaps best summed up in his own words by a brief biography posted on his Linked-in page, which reads: “A lifetime experience of things done right and wrong, all of which make us who we are!”
One of his proteges, and later the CEO of Arcadia (which was what Burton Group was to become) and Marks & Spencer, Lord Stuart Rose, told the Financial Times.
“He was very charismatic, very driven and ahead of his time. Did we go too fast at times? Maybe. But he genuinely changed the face of the high street and he should get the credit for it.”
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