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Can Britain's retail king conquer U.S.?

  • British retail billionaire Sir Philip Green aims to make his fashion brand big in the U.S.
  • Editor-in-chief of American Vogue thinks Green will be successful where many others have failed
  • Green's Topshop has a flagship store in Manhattan with expansion plans to other U.S. cities

Watch the "Revealed" show with Sir Philip Green on CNN: Wednesday, March 16: 7.30, 17.30 Saturday, March 19: 7.30, 12.30, 18.30 Sunday, March 20: 5.30, 17.30 Monday, March 21: 3.30 (GMT)

(CNN) -- Sir Philip Green is the retail king of Great Britain, but can his empire of clothing stores conquer the U.S.?

The launch of his flagship Topshop store in New York was delayed and coincided with the height of recession two years ago, but the self-made billionaire still believes he can crack America.

"There's nothing I have seen that tells me we can't get this brand to work in America," says Green.

Green's Arcadia Group has over 2,500 outlets in the UK, including affordable fashion chain, Topshop, and employs over 44,000 staff.

Asking Kate Moss to design a collection was a very smart move.
--Anna Wintour, editor-in-cheif, Vogue

His transformation of Topshop from cheap high street shop to a fashion-forward brand has grabbed the attention of supermodels, fashionistas and the queen of fashion, U.S. Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour. A good combination to grow a brand in the U.S.

"Philip has a larger than life personality... (He) has been very successful in attracting attention for Topshop," says Wintour.

"Asking Kate Moss to design a collection that really put the spotlight on Topshop in a way that hadn't before, so that was a very smart move."

The supermodel is no-longer connected to the brand, but the New York store has weathered the recession and built up the brand despite some misgivings from Green himself.

"Being honest, would I rather be a hundred meters further north in Broadway? Yes, I would," he says.

"Is it the furthest south a retailer has taken on that's never traded in America? Did we take a site that was horrid, did it have risk in terms of where it is, how far down SoHo it is, getting people to come down there?"

We are a pimple in terms of one brand, in terms of scale, of what the size of the opportunity could be.
--Sir Philip Green

They may be rhetorical questions, but despite the calculated risks Green and his Arcadia Group remains an emerging player in the U.S. retail scene where so many British companies have tried and failed before: a common joke in the rag-trade says that the only way to make a small fortune in America is start with a large fortune.

"It is a bit of a gamble because it's such a sophisticated market, but the risks are worth the rewards," says Isabel Cavill from Planet Retail.

"The U.S. is still the largest retail market in the world."

Cavill cites the lack of brand awareness, too rapid expansion and badly thought out partnerships with U.S. chains as typical reasons why British and other foreign brands have failed to make much of a dent in the U.S.

Last year profits of Arcadia Group were more than healthy -- around $440 million in 2010 -- but faced with the U.S. market, "we are a pimple in terms of one brand, in terms of scale, of what the size of the opportunity could be," Green says.

"Naturally if we want to build a global business, we have got to develop so I think from an investment strategy, from size of the marketplace, from what I think we need to do with the brand, (we need) to move the needle as they say."

Doubling the size of Topshop sounds a big ask, he says, but "there's good acceptance of the product, there's good acceptance of the brand, there's work to do but I think we've got a shot."

Opening new stores in other big cosmopolitan cities in the U.S. is the immediate plan; one that Wintour believes would be successful.

"The American retail market is different from the British one," she says.

"Philip doesn't take unnecessary risk but with everything being so positive in the States and the economy picking up, I'm really hopeful that he'll expand across the country.

"America is a more casual country (than the UK). You go outside of the more fashionable cities you tend to see a lot of jeans and sweatshirts, it's less responsive to what Topshop stands for.

"I'm confident that with Philip's expertise he will conquer the United States the way that he has conquered Britain."