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Damaged Goods

Narrated by: Oliver Shah
Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (406 ratings)

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Summary

Penguin Audio presents Damaged Goods, by Oliver Shah. 

In March 2015, British businessman and the chairman of Arcadia Group Sir Philip Green sold BHS for £1 to Retail Acquisitions, owned by Dominic Chappell, a serial bankrupt who filed BHS for administration shortly after. By April 2016, BHS had debts of £1.3bn, including a pensions deficit of £571m. 

Damaged Goods follows Green's journey to the big time, the sale of BHS and the subsequent investigation that concluded with Green paying £363m to the Pensions Regulator. 

In Damaged Goods, Oliver Shah, the award-winning journalist who first broke the story, shines a light on Green's past and Arcadia's uncertain future; this is the extraordinary account of the retail magnate Sir Philip Green's life and his relationship with the high street.

©2018 Oliver Shah (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

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How do they sleep at night?

If you thought you knew about the BHS scandal - think again.
If you thought you knew how low people would go to line their own pockets and in doing so attempt to deprive BHS pensioners of their entitlements - think again.

Oliver Shah and his Editor must be congratulated for having the courage to take on Philip Green, despite being physically threatened and subjected to vulgar abuse.

This excellently researched book takes the reader through every twist and turn of the sordid saga and the author makes an excellent job of narrating it.

Anyone remotely interested in retailing or in finding out how seemingly respectable city institutions collude and behave, will be both shocked and absorbed in equal measure.

How Philip Green has retained on his knighthood is beyond belief. Perhaps this book will give people like Frank Field an opportunity to lobby Parliament accordingly.

16 people found this helpful

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Very realistic

After working for Arcadia for many years this book is so real. Such a shame as the company was very forward thinking yet over the years became backward. With Senior Management away from the Brands taking a similar style to Philip acting like bullies down the line and favouring friends rather than treating employees as equals. Well done Oliver a great book .

12 people found this helpful

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Excellent account of outrageous greed

Oliver Shah's business biography of Philip Green and the BHS pensions scandal of 2016 is essential listening. The shocking way in which the Greens were able to pay themselves billions in BHS dividends in 15 years then sell the business off to bankrupt charlatan Dominic Chappell for £1 with a huge pension deficit and let him run the British institution off a cliff within 18 months is a story that encapsulates why there is so much antipathy and anger in Britain toward the wealthy. Shah pulls no punches in this scathing and informative account of Green's career and I hope he will write another business book soon. He also narrates the book himself and does a fine job. His paraphrasing of Green's constant swearing is sometimes very funny but also shows what a nasty man he is too, who on earth would want to work for someone like him?

8 people found this helpful

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OMG outstanding book

OMG... this is a fabulous book for anyone interested in the ins and outs of the City. So much detail but told in a very easy to listen to style. Love him or hate him Green has had an amazing life. Shah actually gives a not unsympathetic narrative about a man who is clearly deeply flawed as a human being but is like we all are a mix of good and bad. If you are offended by lots of expletives then avoid the book as Green seems to use the F Word as others would use a full stop in most sentences... riveting read...

5 people found this helpful

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Very Interesting Stuff!!

Loved everything about this book. A very insightful journalist with an excellent handle of the machinations of a very flawed but clever man. Want to hear this again already!!

3 people found this helpful

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Fascinating story brilliantly told

It's rare that business books - or any written by specialists journalists - stray beyond the jargon and in-jokes that rattle harmoniously around within their sectors understood only by the cliques who populate them. But in 'Damaged Goods...', Sunday Times business editor Oliver Shah has crafted a narrative that weaves together comedic and dramatic threads charting the decay of Britain's favourite past-time (shopping). Shah does this in a way that engages and fascinates the reader, even if he or she isn't one of the million or so regulars who picks up Shah's reports in the newspaper he's worked at since 2010.

You get the sense that this book allowed him to explore prose with the level of colour and curiosity that the deadlines and tight word limits of newspaper journalism do not always allow, and this is part of what makes the book such a success.

What also makes the narrative work is the meticulous research and the effortless, often laugh-at-loud funny, prose that sets up the key characters in and around Green who, despite his lavish lifestyle swimming in yachts and cars, comes across as a Poundshop Kray-wannabe. Shah would have definitely needed to wash his mouth out with soap after reading the audiobook which contains many hilarious, expletive-laden rants that Green is notorious for dishing out. But the reading is energised and engaging, making the book a very easy listen.

When history comes to judge the huge step-change we are seeing at the crossroads of consumerism, retail, technology and demographic change, the subject matter in this book will be crucial. What's clear however, is that the story of Green and the death of the high street - in particular Arcadia and Topshop - is far from over. Hopefully Green won't succeed in his threat to throw Shah "out of the f------ window" and he'll happily be able to update things in future editions.

6 people found this helpful

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  • 27-05-19

Par excellence..well done! A truly well researched

A superb account of a man who's self created wealth and power have come to destroy him affecting all in it's wake

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

This book was gripping from start to finish. If you have an interest in business / retail and how not to behave this is the book for you.

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating insight into the King of the High St

Just about everyone in the UK will be familiar with Sir Philip Green and his retail empire. Some will have heard the stories of celebrity lifestyle through the red top press. Few will have heard the story of how he made his fortune. Only one person has been close enough to him throughout his career to have really understood what motivates and drives him and that is Sunday Times journalist Oliver Shah.
Green and Shah have been sparring with each other for a couple of decades and have had an on and off love / hate relationship. The reality is that they are cast from the same mould of tough east end bad boys made good, Green through the rag trade and Shah through the press.
It is easy to be critical of Green due to the reports of his excesses and perceived greed and arrogance but it would be too simplistic to paint him as merely the power seeking oligarchic tyrant that as the UK popular press portray him. He is, after all, a phenomenally successful businessman who, via his investments in BHS and Arcadia Group created thousands of jobs and headed a retail empire that was loved and patronised by the majority of the UK public. Unlike the US however where business success is celebrated, in the UK people do, of course, love to big up and then knock down people who have done well. Admittedly, Sir Philip does come over as being, at time, unpleasant in this warts and all biography; it would be a surprise if Shah had not dished the dirt. There is, however, a more human side to the man that is rarely seen and it is interesting to hear Shah describe the deep love he has for his family, Tina especially, and the passion he has for success of his business.
The controversial sale of BHS to Dominic Chappell resulted in considerable criticism for Green. What is seldom reported, however is that after the sale and subsequent collapse, he made a nine figure payment to the group pension scheme.


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Narrator

Horrible voice to listen to for more than 10min
Narrator is putting on a pose

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  • Kevin
  • 22-07-18

Well written, well read and well done!

Sir Philip is a remarkable character! These observations of the making of a real-life tycoon highlight the unglamorous climb to the top.

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  • Philo
  • 03-07-18

Well-written, punchy tale of a wheeler-dealer

If you like a business story with colorful characters, quotes and events, this should be to your liking. The author reads his story and does a great job all around. He knows how to craft a sentence out of short, high-impact words, coming out listenable and easy to understand. He knows how to tell a story through little action scenes between people one can relate to. That includes trades of some sophistication, where this author shows a real gift of simplicity and clarity. The icilng on the cake is a very skillfully paced reading by him, breaking sentences into punchy phrases.
Beyond the level of the principal characters, is a wider story of changes in British retail business, banking and culture, from the 90s into the 2000s. Of interest is the shifting of the old Eton type elite crowd (in banking, politics, fashion and so on) toward finally kissing up to a character as crude and blunt (though charismatically so) as this one. Many were attracted by this charisma but ultimately were ejected from the ensuing pig-wrestling match with some harsh lessons, bruises and sometimes some nice cash. The world keeps generating these sorts, born traders with big hungers and sharp mouths and elbows, in a hurry. And when the time comes to throw others under the bus, they are poised and ready. Meanwhile various bystanders like this author and myself (myself as a prof) interpret all this to a public. It takes all kinds.