Topshop worker at London’s flagship store claims owner Sir Philip Green had the code name ‘Papa One’ and ‘ran it with an iron grip of fear and berated staff if anything was out of place’
- Writer Hanna Flint told how she worked at Oxford Street branch aged 21 in 2009
- Brand was gaining global acclaim due to collaborations with likes of Kate Moss
- Admitted the glamour soon wore off, with long shifts and repetitive work
- Claimed Green would berate closest staff member if anything was out of place
- Famous building that houses Topshop’s Oxford Street store is now up for sale
A former Topshop employee who worked at the London flagship store has told how owner Sir Philip Green ran it ‘with an iron grip of fear’.
Writer Hanna Flint, from Doncaster, took up a sales assistant role at the age of 21 in 2009, after moving to the capital for a gap year when she finished university.
She has always wanted to work at Topshop and described the Oxford Street building – which is now up for sale after the chain’s owner Arcadia went into administration in November, putting 13,000 jobs at risk – as ‘stately and iconic’.
At the time the brand was soaring in global popularity thanks to its collaborations with the likes of Kate Moss and Christopher Kane, and celebrities would often shop there either under the radar or accompanied by an entourage.
But, writing in Vice, Hanna explained the most important name for its staff was that of owner Green.
A former Topshop employee who worked at the London flagship store (pictured in December) has told how owner Sir Philip Green ran it ‘with an iron grip of fear’
She claimed employees knew when he was paying a visit because the code name ‘Papa One’ would emanate from her supervisors’ walkie talkies, followed by rails of clothes being whisked out of sight into stockrooms.
‘He hated “bananaraming” the most, a term of unknown origin that indicates when a clothes rail (or “fixture”) would have too many hangers shoved on and curve upwards at the end of the row,’ Hanna recalled.
‘Green would berate the closest staff member if there was anything out of place. I’ve never seen the colour drain from a person’s face quicker than when a supervisor heard “Papa One is in the building” crackle from the radio.’
She added that he ran the store ‘with an iron grip of fear’ and the ‘glamour’ of the job soon wore off.
Hanna claimed employees knew when Sir Philip Green (pictured with Kate Moss at the opening of Topshop in New York in 2009) was paying a visit because the code name ‘Papa One’ would emanate from her supervisors’ walkie talkies, followed by rails of clothes being whisked out of sight into stockrooms
Hanna recalled working long nine hour shifts, listening to the same music all day and battling through her repetitive grind, manning the tills, restocking shelves and continually re-folding jeans after customers tried them on.
Due to her working at the flagship store her much-anticipated 60 per cent clothing allowance discount was restricted to bottoms only, because they had to wear official Topshop T-shirts bearing the logo.
If she wanted to get a regular staff discount, she had to open a store credit card, which as a student she deemed wasn’t the best idea – though her co-workers were ‘good people’ and they often held back sale items or boutique pieces for each other.
News the famous Topshop Oxford Street building going up for sale prompted an outpouring of grief on social media yesterday, with many nostalgic shoppers recalling their visits to the store, which opened in 1994 and boasted a DJ booth, nail bar and food stalls.
News the famous Topshop Oxford Street building going up for sale prompted an outpouring of grief on social media yesterday
One shopper tweeted: ‘I always found the big TopShop on Oxford Street strangely comforting whenever I got off the tube. I will miss it, unnecessarily loud DJ and all. #GoodbyeTopShop.’
Another wrote: ‘Very unnerved by the disappearance of Big Topshop on Oxford Street. Have many fond teenage memories of looking at the floor and mumbling when the cashier asked me if the pink faux fur bomber I was buying was for “my girlfriend”. RIP.’
And one commented: ‘So where do we meet after work? 6pm. Topshop flagship, outside. Oxford Street. RIP,’ followed by a series of loudly crying face emojis.
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