Arcadia Group owner Sir Philip Green has denied rumours he plans to sell his struggling Bhs department store chain to focus on expanding Topshop, media reports say.

An article in the Independent on Sunday in the UK suggested that he wanted to offload the stores, possibly to Primark or Tesco. However, Sir Philip this morning (14 April) told AFX News that the report was untrue.

Bhs, with around 180 stores in the UK, would be an attractive real estate proposition for potential bidders but Sir Philip is reluctant lose the business he purchased eight years ago to rivals.

Last week, Sir Philip outlined his plans for Topshop to become a global brand with flagship stores in capital cities - starting with a New York launch in October.

However, speaking at the World Retail Congress last week, he also outlined the tough trading conditions on the UK high street at present, with snowy weather and temperatures as low as 4% in April.

"If you take the current economic climate we're in, people need a reason to go shopping while there's a squeeze on their disposable income," he said.

"At the moment there is not a reason, especially last weekend when it snowed, and snow in April is not easy."

Bhs posted a 17% rise in profit for fiscal 2007, despite a 1.5% fall in same-store sales in what it described as a "challenging" market at the time.