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Who's Gone Bust in Retailing?
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Who's Gone Bust in Retailing 2010-14?
March 2014

Your Rights if Your Employer Is Insolvent

With permission of KSA Group - www.companyrescue.co.uk

2013
Note that this list and similar lists for 2007 to 2010 relate primarily to medium or large retail businesses. We do not include takeovers unless we see this as being equivalent to business failure. Please read the legal stuff below. As we all know these days, failure is often a temporary inconvenience; we are not suggesting that these businesses no longer survive, simply that they have experienced difficulties and the people with slide rules have moved in at some time.

We have put the pre-2010 list of companies in administration into the Section on Previous Reports.

2007-2013 Review
The twelve months of 2013 proved to be less bad (rather than good) for the retail industry than analysts (including me) had forecast. 2012 had been the worst year since 2008, with 54 retailers and almost four thousand stores affected. The period from Christmas 2012 to March 2013 was horrid with retailers like Blockbuster, HMV, Jessops and Comet going into administration. However things had improved by the middle of the year so that the results for the whole of 2013 were similar to those of 2011.

One reason for the comparative improvement in the 'Who's Gone Bust?' figures in 2013 has been better economic prospects for consumers and retailers. However this may give only a short respite. Although some retailers have had a very good Christmas selling season, others have done very badly and we can expect the pattern of consumer spending to remain erratic. The improvement in the economy may come to late for several retailers.

 
Companies failing
Stores Affected
Employees Affected
2014 (to March) 20 204 2,290
2013 (12 months) 49 2,500 25,140
2012 (12 months)
54
3,951
48,142
2011 (12 months) 31 2,469 24,025
2010 (12 months)
26
944
10,930
2009 (12 months)
37
6,536
26,688
2008 (12 months)
54
5,793
74,539
2007 (12 months)
25
2,600
14,083

Companies affected in the last five years have included Comet, JJB Sports, Clinton Cards, Game, Borders, Barratts, Alexon, T J Hughes, Jane Norman, Habitat, Focus DIY, Floors-2-Go, the Officers Club, Oddbins, Ethel Austin, Faith Shoes, Adams Childrenswear, Thirst Quench, Stylo, Mosaic, Principles, Sofa Workshop, Allied Carpets, Viyella, Dewhursts, Woolworths, MFI, and Zavvi/Virgin Megastore.

Legal Note:
this listing of UK retailers who went into receivership between 2005 and 2013 is based on research carried out at the time and our understanding of their business affairs then. Some of these companies recovered and came out of administration; some were bought by other businesses; some were sold as going concerns but changed their name; for some, the name was bought and this is still used, but under different ownership; and others ceased to exist. The presence of any business in this historical listing must not be taken to imply that it no longer exists, its name is not used or that such business, if still trading, is impaired in anyway.

Failures in 2014

  • Poldark Mine, the Cornish visitor attraction with retail attachments, went into administration in March, after several years of declining revenues. There are 18,000 visitors each year. The business is now for sale.
  • Albemarle & Bond, one of the largest pawnbrokers in the UK, went into administration towards the end of March. There are 188 shops and 1,000 employees. The company expanded (too) rapidly proclaiming the 'age of the pawnbroker' until 2013, when the fall in gold prices and business overexpansion produced cash flow problems and turned profits into losses. Attempts to restructure the business, merge with Better Capital, or obtain further loans from banks came to nothing. When its main creditors (banks) refused to provide further facilities after the March end, its only option was to file notice of administration.
  • Trust Media Distribution (TMD), the Carlyle-based distributor of bibles, Christian books, DVDs and music, has gone into administration as a result of a heavy fall in sales. The company cut its workforce from 70 in 2012 to around 30 in 2013. It is continuing to trade on a reduced scale whilst a buyer is found.
  • SitUp TV, the TV shopping channel that operates Price Drop TV and Bid TV, was acquired in December 2013 after large losses caused by internet competition. The owners of Ideal Shopping (Paul and Val Wright) will invest £6 mn to save the TV selling business if the creditors accept a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) to settle debts believed to be more than £68million (ie it's those 'haircuts' again). Creditors are asked to accept between 9p and 30p in the £pound. SitUp TV broadcasts weekly more than 300 hours of live demonstrations on Freeview and employs 350 staff.
  • Internaçionale, the value clothing retailer entered administration once again at the end of February after its purchase by Jason Granite. Unless a new buyer can be found, it is possible that the entire chain of 110 stores (1,600 employees) will be closed and the company liquidated. However it is likely to continue trading for up to three months.
  • Computer Bookshops Limited (CBL), a retailer and wholesaler of IT books with 350,000-plus titles based in Sparkhill, has gone into administration. Component parts of the business include CBL Distribution, Bookaxis, cblearning training and computermanuals.co.uk. The causes of administration are thought to be declining high-street sales and withdrawal of a key supplier.
  • Hooty's Supplies, the £15 mn turnover Willenhall-based home and garden retailer, went into administration in February. Its assets were bought by The Range, retaining its large warehouse store, although 26 employees have been made redundant and 130 transferred to the new owners. Stores in Birmingham and Kidderminster had already been closed.
  • LN-CC, a rapidly-growing up-market quality fashion concept combining an experiential store and an online business, went into administration in February. The expected £7 mn turnover in 2013 failed to occur. The business has been bought by Italian online seller, The Level Group. Senior figures are to remain with the business.
  • P&C Distribution, a games and toy distributor trading as The In Thing to top sellers Harrods, JLP, Hamleys and W H Smith, went into administration in February. Its business model involved promoting fads/crazes like Peppa Pig, Angry Birds and Zombie Zity, but recent failed promotions led to failure. There are 46 employees.
  • Sa-Kis, brand-oriented fashion chain with outlets in Nottingham and Sheffield, went into pre-pack administration in February, closing its Nottingham store. The Sheffield outlet continues to trade.
  • Bloomfield Shopping Centre, Bangor (Northern Ireland) is in receivership following action by Ulster Bank. The shopping centre made a small loss this year (-£0.37 mn) after a £52 mn writedown last year. The centre continues to trade but according to Lisney the Bangor's shop vacancy rate increased from 21.8% in 2012 to 25.7% in 2013.
  • Nuval Ltd, a distributor for watch brands including MeisterSinger, Ball, Fendi and Salvatore Ferragamo went into administration in February, blaming weak sales and late payers. Fourteen staff have been made redundant. For the last few years Nuval's driving force has been Jurek Piasecki, former chairman and mastermind of Goldsmiths Jewellers.
  • Clubsport (Kington) Ltd, a franchisee of Animal Stores, has gone into administration resulting in the closure of seven out of its 12 stores (mainly Wales and the North West) and 47 redundancies. An affiliated (but separate) business, Clubsport, an action retailer based in Hereford, is unaffected by the problems of the other business, has opened new stores in south Wales and seems to be operating at least some of the former Animal stores.
  • All Gino Casuals and NV stores, two Northern Ireland fashion chains (menswear and womenswear respectively), closed 15 stores (costing 150 jobs) after the parent company (Nath Bros Partnership) went into liquidation. They focused on the younger market, but were not price-focused enough or exclusive enough to survive against large-scale competition. Donald McFetridge suggests, 'they have fallen victim to the changing patterns and trends in consumer behaviour in the fashion industry... others in a similar position need to learn lessons from this failure.'
  • Base Retail, parent company of Base Menswear, went into administration in February blaming the squeeze on mid-market shoppers and excessive business rates. Four of its nine stores have been closed (Lakeside, Watford, Bromley and Luton) with the loss of 10+ jobs. Base Childrenswear is unaffected.
  • Lewis's Southport Ltd T/A Variety Shopping Ltd, Southport's newest department store trading from the Tulketh Street premises vacated by Waitrose in 2006, closed for business, failing to pay staff their December wages. There were 90 staff, all dismissed. The manager had little previous retail experience and it seems unlikely that the business would have thrived.
  • Serene, the upmarket brand clothing retailer, has been put into liquidation although its website (owned by a separate legal entity) continues to trade. The owner has blamed the rising costs and reduced customer footfall of trading in the UK for the outlet's problems.
  • Eric Alcock Ltd, the 50-year Staffordshire electricals mini-multiple, went into voluntary administration in January and is being liquidated. It had stores in Alsager, Kidsgrove, Newcastle, Crewe Sandbach and Middlewich but was unable to repay its creditors before it folded.
  • Priory Shopping Centre, Dartford, went into administration at the end of December 2013. There are more than 40 stores, including Sainsburys, Wilkinson, the 99p store and Poundland.
  • Glasgow's Savoy Centre, with a large indoor market and almost 70 small stores, has given its retailers notice to quit within seven days as the Centre is not generating sufficient cash to allow it to continue. The Centre is owned by InShops.
  • InShops premises across the UK - 50 centres with around 1,800 retailers - it is understood are to close on Friday 15 Jan 2014 and the leases are to be handed back to the owners. All retail tenants have been given one week's notice. It is thought that InShops Centres and InShops Starters will cease to trade and go into liquidation, subject to agreement from the creditors. Geraud Markets is the ultimate company owner, which is a subsidiary of French operator, Groupe Geraud. Centres exist in Kings Heath, Cannock, Perry Barr, Erdington, Aberdeen, Chatham, Thornaby, Cwmbran, Stratford London, Broadway London, Huyton, Chelmsley Wood, Washington. The Dundas/Middlesborough InStore Centre has been taken over by the landlords to ensure its future and three other shopping centres. Six other leases were surrended before administration and ten centres closed permanently. 321 retailers have been able to survive in the premises that have been saved.
  • Tone World, Manchester's specialist guitar store started by former Sounds Great director, Garry Sharp, is in administration. Two staff have been made redundant. A major factor in the company's difficulties is a significant legal dispute.
  • News from Germany. Weltbild, a large German bookseller with sales of €1.6 bn and 6,800 employees has filed notice of insolvency. It sells online and via catalogues and is the part-owner of Germany's second largest bricks and mortar bookseller, Hugendubel. It has been struggling against Amazon.de for years and could not arrange refinancing following a fall in sales in 2013. Weltbild is owned by 12 dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church. The Weltbild companies in Austria and Switzerland are not affected and its website continues to trade.
  • Conway's Toymaster, a chain of 14 toyshops based in Keighley, West Yorkshire, has filed a notice to appoint an administrator. The causes cited include loss of trade to online retailers and high rents on the high street. The group has stores in Macclesfield, Keighley, Preston, Otley, Carlisle, Southport, Blackpool and Halifax. 'Toymaster' logo shops elsewhere, including Harpers (Penrith), and in Cockermouth and Barrow and the rest of the country are unaffected because they are not part of the Conway Group.
  • Fragrance House stores and some store in the Semichem chain are to close leading to 90 job losses and 13 store closures by the Scotmid Co-operative Society. The remaining convenience store operations of the 5,000 employee group will be unaffected.
  • Base Retail, which is known for its designer-wear clothes for children, is going into administration following a decision to close its menwear range. The Granditer store in London's East End was established in 1910 and there are currently nine stores.
  • Pykes, up-market family-run jewellers in Birkenhead, went into administration early in January after a disappointing Christmas, the growth of online retailing and the fluctuating price of metals. The business was set up in 1878 and there are four shops which will continue to operate.
  • McKechnie Brass, It may seem odd to start the year with the failure of a West Midlands (Aldridge) producer of copper and brass rod and sections, but for those of us who know McKechnie's well it is the end of an era. The Company was founded in 1871 and produces metals for the automotive, electronics, energy and construction sectors. Sixty out of the 75 staff have been made redundant.

Failures in 2013

  • Jacksons of Reading, a traditional department store with 60 staff in Reading town centre ('Jackson's Corner') closed two days before Christmas. The store was founded in 1875. Trade had moved away towards the Oracle shopping mall on the other side of the town and a large repair bill for the roof made the business unsustainable. Goods were still sold from glass/wooden cases, receipts were hand-written, and the old cash-tube system was used for payment. The Economist wrote a short article about it here http://econ.st/1armBZt
  • Broadview Blinds, a Poole-based chain of shops selling blinds blinds was bought out of administration and will focus on blinds for industrial and commercial use. All the stores have been closed and 27 staff made redundant, although the main showroom remains open.
  • Fuzzwire, Ending on a Christmas note, Fuzzwire had gone into administration leaving almost 190 staff and self-employed workers without a job a couple of weeks before Christmas. Fuzzwire supplied Christmas lights to many shopping centres and in particular the grottos and moving decorative items that are such a feature of Christmas. The company has been bought by MK Illumination and we understand that most employees and contractors have transferred to them.
  • Osborne's, one of the UK's oldest retailers, went into administration early in December. It is a stationers established in 1830. There are 20 stores, three stores have already been closed, and 140 staff.
  • The Oak Mall in Greenock, a shopping centre with more than 65 units, went into administration in late November as part of an effort to refinance the business.
  • Tie Rack, the necktie, scarf and accessories fashion retailer, is to close its 44 high-street stores and continue as an online retailer. It has not gone bust. Last year's accounts show a loss of 10% against sales of £68 mn. In the 1980s there were 450 stores and along with Sock Shop, Principles and Laura Ashley it was a pioneer of what was known as 'edited retailing' (see Bamfield [1988] 'Competition and Change in British Retailing' National Westminster Bank Quarterly Bank Review, February, pp.15-29.)
  • Mywardrobe.com, the Nottingham-based online fashion retailer (formally Meemi Limited), went into administration in November and was purchased by Growth Capital Acquisitions. Thirty-two out of 80 employees have been made redundant.
  • Blockbuster, the games and DVD rental chain with 246 stores, has announced it will enter administration for the second time this year. There are 2,000 employees. It emerged from administration six months earlier with one-half the number of stores of the original business. Gordon Brothers, its owners, is looking to sell the business.
  • Elmfield Training, a £100 mn-funded training provider one of whose clients was Morrisons, has gone into administration with the loss of 600 jobs after a critical BBC investigation, a low grade from OFSTED for apprentice training and being investigated by the Skills Funding Agency.
  • Barratts, the high street shoe stores, went into administration for the third time in four years. It shrunk from more than 350 stores in 2009 to 45 today (plus a further 15 in N. Ireland and 15 in the Republic). It faces the same problems as the rest of the high street along with the specialist difficulties of selling mid-market shoes. . Its prospects look bleak. There are more than 1,000 staff.
    It has been announced today (6 January 2014) by Insider Media that a new company called W Barratt &, Co, created by footwear entrepreneur Harvey Jacobson and previous Barratts' buying and merchandising director Simon Robson, will pay £360,000 for the Barratts brand and online trading business.

    Despite these deals to save the business, Barratts' creditors will still be short by more than £14 million. Trade and expense creditors are owed £6 million, loan note holders £9 million, and £850,000 to HMRC.
  • Gerald Davies & Sons, a chain of six butchers shops established in 1969 in the south west, went into administration in October. There were shops at Minehead, Dulverton, Weston and Cheddar. Three stores remain open and 50 people have been made redundant.
  • A Little Bit of Bling, a wedding events retailer, announced on its Facebook page that it was going into administration, thus jeopardising the weddings of 170 brides (and grooms). Overtrading and illness seems to be the probable cause.
  • Preston & Thomas, admittedly not a retailer, but a supplier of equipment has gone into administration after 100 years of trading. Preston & Thomas is one of the largest manufacturers of fish and chip frying equipment and its problems will cause shortages and difficulties for fish and chip shops. Even though some people are talking up the economic recovery, we can expect many more failures like this from companies that have mainly been 'hanging on' during the recession. Their creditors see the prospect of getting back some return now that business prospects are improving.
  • Collectables, a 12-store chain of fashion accessories, jewellery and gift shops in the North-east, went into administration at the end of September. There were 75 staff including HO at Stockton.
  • Hanna & Browne, the Northern Ireland home
  • furnishings and domestic electricals chain, went into administration as Lisnasure Interiors in early September. There are five stores and 100 employees. Linasure paid off its debts in 2011 and avoided a winding-up order, but it is unclear whether it will be able to do so again.
  • Dominoes Toyshop, Leicester. This iconic store, Toy Industry Award Best Independent Toy Store in Britain in 2010, went into administration early in September having lost £1 mn in the past two years. Eighteen of the 28 staff have been made redundant.
  • Designville, trading as 2020 Optical Store - the largest independent optician in London turning over £3.4 mn in one store - went into administration earlier this year. It has now been sold to Vision Express.
  • HMV Ireland. Some good news. Hilco bought HMV assets from administration after 16 HMV stores closed in Ireland and intends to reopen four in September 2013. The administrators of Modelzone stores however are likely to close all its outlets.
  • Good news also for Hailey Acquisitions Limited (HAL), the arm of Opcapita used to purchase Comet for £2.00 in February 2012. Although the company was placed in administration in November 2012, HAL has so far received £54 mn from the sale of Comet's stock and equipment and, according to the Telegraph, there is another £29 mn to be distributed. Unsecured creditors will only receive around 1p in the £1.00.
  • Warner Estate Holdings, the owner of Liverpool's Cavern Walks Shopping Centre and a number of other properties, has gone into administration. Its debts from 2008 have proved impossible to clear or to manage. Warner's different holdings are likely to be repackaged. A change of ownership should not affect the tenants of the shopping centre.
  • Montgomery Tomlinson, the curtains and accessories supplier with concessions in many department and other stores, went into administration in August. Its 530 staff were made redundant immediately with no pay available for August. It is likely that all assets will be sold to relieve creditors.
  • Tomlinson Directories, the well-known directories for local traders and retailers went into well-publicised administration in August, the sales staff were made redundant, but the business was rescued from administration a few hours later.
  • RSM Tenon, no - not a retailer - but the seventh largest accountancy and insolvency firm in the UK. It found a big hole in its accounts in 2012 and went into administration this summer to re-emerge quickly as part of Baker Tilly.
  • Homebase Ireland,the Irish arm of the DIY group, has been put into 'examinership' in Eire after five years of losses. Its sales in Ireland have fallen by 31% since 2009. It proposes to close three of its 15 stores (17 FT and 79 PT staff affected). The system of 'upward-only' rent reviews has meant that they are paying (in their view) excessively high rents, which they are attempting to reduce. Other UK chains that have put their Irish companies through examinership include B&Q and Monsoon.
  • Begbies Traynor, one of the major restructuring and recovery businesses has seen its profits halved to £2.4 mn in the last year. Obviously the company is not a retailer and not in difficulties, but it may be significant that the company's rationale for the profit fall was that there were not enough companies failing.
  • Laindon, a Basildon shopping centre, owned by Laindon Regeneration, has gone into administration. It was bought at the very worst time for £11.5 mn in 2007 and the company has failed to keep it commitments to its bankers. It was originally intended to demolish the existing centre and rebuild in collaboration with the council, but thje company failure may prevent this.
  • Nicole Farhi, the iconic luxury fashion retailer, went into administration in July. It employs 120 staff, has six stores, 10 concessions and a website. The company was set up by Nicole Farhi and her then husband, Stephen Marks (head of French Connection) in 1982. French Connection sold it to private equity firm OpenGate in 2010, who sold their stake to Kelso Place Asset Management. The most-recent company results (for 2010) show losses of almost £6 mn on sales of £21.7 mn.
  • Gelert, the camping equipment retailer, was been saved from administration by Sports Direct, which bought its four Welsh stores, a Haydock showroom, and its wholesale operation run from Widnes. Thirty employees are involved.
  • Ark, the swish Leeds-based fashion retailer, is to enter administration. It is owned by Rett Retail Ltd and has 17 stores and 410 employees. The company was later bought by JD Sports, who closed four uneconomic stores affecting 40 jobs.
  • Internaçionale, the value clothing retailer with 145 stores and 920 staff, has gone into administration for the second time (previously 2008). It bought 85 MK fashion stores after that firm went into administration.
  • Modelzone, the toy/game/model retailer selling more than 10,000 lines (!), is to go into administration. It has 48 stores and 500 employees.
  • Slurp.co.uk, the online drinks retailer owned by Ribica International, has been acquired by the online retailer S H Jones. Slurp, established in 2004, specialised in single bottles of premium wines. It also bought the software, assets and retained the staff. S H Jones has stores in Banbury, Bicester, and Leamington and purchased the Hawkeshead Wines (online) operation in January 2013.
  • Comet, again. Former owners Hailey Acquisitions are believed to be purchasing Comet's losses of £27 mn in order to set against their own taxes. They bought Comet in 2012 from Darty for £2 and received £50 mn investment from Darty. Comet's failure cost HMRC itself £50 mn and 6,000 employees lost their jobs.
  • Derby Riverlights Developments, the entertainments complex that includes two hotels, a Spar convenience store, Jimmy's World Grill, and a Casino Genting Club, went into administration in June.
  • Kyle Shopping Centre and Arran Mall, shopping centres located in the town centre of Ayr, both went into administration in June as a result of a fall in shopper numbers caused by increased competition from rival centres.
  • Dwell, the well-thought of national furniture retailer, went into administration in June 2013 with 350 jobs at risk and around £1 mn of customer deposits. There are four flagship stores in Lakeside, Tottenham Court Rd, Trafford Centre and Glasgow, and 20 other stores. Six new stores were opened last year. Sales were £34 mn last year but losses over the last three years amounted to £5.6 mn. Aamir Ahmad, the founder of Dwell, has now bought the company out of administration, and reopened five stores and restarted the website.
  • Lisa Ho, Australian high-end fashion retailer, went into administration in May, since when six of its eleven stores have closed. It lost $A2.4 mn last year and owes creditors $A11 mn. Although some companies are interested in buying what remains of the chain, the remaining shops are on sale till the end of June when they will finally close and 100 people lose their jobs.
  • Past Times, again. The 51 Past Times stores that continued to trade under administration have all been closed. The website has been purchased by W H Smith, which bought the Past Times brand, and this has been shut down also.
  • White Rabit Records, Essex-based music retailer trading as 'Digital Village' and 247.com, has gone into administration with seven of its eight stores already closed. Sales in 2010, the peak year, were £37 million. A German retailer is thought to have bought the website, but the owner of the flagship store is yet unconfirmed.
  • Infinity Furniture, Liverpool, trading as the Bed Shop, Hudsons and The Furniture Company at 66 Long Lane Liverpool with an online presence at different websites and a claimed 1 million customers has ceased trading as a result of a large bad debt. There are other business at the same address including Furniture 66; their position is unknown.
  • Coggles Limited, the York fashion retailer established in 1974, went into administration in May. There are about 60 staff, one-half of which were made redundant immediately. As well as the designer store, Coggles ran a large online business sourcing designs from more than 200 collections.
  • Icetech, a company manufacturing freezers in Castletown Scotland, went into administration in April. It had been a major supplier to Comet, which collapsed owing the small business £0.9 million. It was unable to recover from this blow and the loss of half its business. There were 70 employees. This website does not really concern itself with suppliers, but every time a retailer goes bust it is certain that traders involved in shopfitting, logistics, storage, landlords, small-scale services and local manufacture will suffer considerable losses which may be the final blow to some of them.
  • Xtra-Vision, the Irish entertainment rental and retail business, went into administration as being 'unable to meet its debts'. It cited the decline in film rentals as being key to its failure. It has 152 stores in Ireland (42 in Northern Ireland) and 1,023 employees. The majority of its shops are still profitable so it is likely that the business will continue in a reduced form.
  • Leslie Cass, the Sheffield jeweller, became the third jeweller to crash in six weeks.
  • Textiles Direct, (readymade curtains, bedding and linens etc) with 50 stores and 300 staff went into administration early in April. Five stores have already closed. A company restructuring in 2010 already cut store numbers from 75 outlets, but company sales fell 20% in 2012. The Textiles Direct website is owned by a separate company and is unaffected by the administration.
  • Brandspace Group, one of Britain's major suppliers of temporary space and pop-up shops, has lost several shopping centre contracts and is seeking a buyer. Its most recent accounts show losses of £2.3 mn on sales of £6.5 mn.
  • Ortak, the major design jeweller with 15 shops in Scotland and two in England, went into administration at the beginning of April. There are 150 employees. The company, established in Kirkwall by designer Malcolm Gray, had grown to a turnover of £7.3 million but had been hit by the recession and the rapid increase in the price of raw materials.
  • Mercury FX Limited, the special effects company for the Dr Who series, went into administration early in March owing the HMRC money.
  • Sugar Mill Retail Park, Plymouth, with 14,000 sq ft of space and 25 tenants has been bought from the administrators by Chris Dawson, owner of the £500 mn turnover Range chain. Sentimentally his first shop was on the same estate.
  • Taps, the plumbers merchant which also supplies bathrooms, entered administration in March. There are eight branches and 20 staff mainly in the north east.
  • Semple Fraser, a Glasgow law firm with 20 partners and 100 staff, is to go into administration.
  • Clive Ranger Rings, a four-store jeweller in the West Country and South Wales, with 34 employees, went into administration in March.
  • Spirit, a ladies fashion store, with 20 employees at branches in Marlborough, Devizies, Bradford-on-Avon and Frome, went into voluntary liquidation owing £0.4 million.
  • Style Passport, the fashion e-commerce retailer started by former Marie Claire fashion editor Sarah Walter is being placed in voluntary liquidation and wound up. All existing customers and promises will be met. The company has failed to meet expectations and will cease trading.
  • Monsoon Accessorize Ireland is to appoint an examiner (=go into administration). The UK operations are not affected.
  • Dreams, the bed retailer, went into administration for one day as part of being restructured, before being acquired by private equity firm Sun European Partners for £35 mn. It was worth £222 mn a few years ago. Sun Europe has purchased the head office, its 2 manufacturing plants and 171 stores (1675 employees). That leaves the other 93 stores not part of the deal in administration. Sun also owns ScS, Alexon and bed specialist Sharps.
  • West One Fashion, the young woman's fashion retailer with 17 stores went into administration at the end of February. There are around 35 employees affected.
  • Republic, the mid-market youth fashion retailer with 121 stores and 1,600 employees, went into administration in mid-February in order to reorganise (=close shops) before the next quarterly rent period. Negotiations with landlords came to nothing. It has been suffering because it cannot afford the high rents and rates of UK high streets and the youth market has been one of the most strongly hit sectors. Its chairman departed in Jan and the company twitter accounts closed, the modern precursor to announcing bad news.
  • Rapid Hardware, the Liverpool family-run business that operates from a 10K sq ft store in Williamson Sq, went into administration in early February. The company was established in 1971 and has 90 employees. It left its original property and moved into the heart of Liverpool's retail district in 2009.
  • B&Q Ireland, a subsidiary of Kingfisher Group, has appointed an examiner (this is Irish law for administration) to enable the business to continue trading in order to survive. It may close up to four of its nine stores.
  • PleaseandThankyou, the online business start-up run by Peter Gelardi (co-founder of failed wedding gifts provider, Wrapit [see below]) has been wound up with no debts. The company sold home and garden products.
  • Excellar, the wine retail chain with 7 stores in the South East and one in Paris, went into administration at the end of January. There are 45 staff. Simon Baile, former head of Oddbins, originally bought 158 Oddbins stores from Castel Frères, but the chain went into administration in 2011. The present Exceller was rescued from the administrator.
  • Cobbetts, the law firm with 500 employees sat in offices in Birmingham, Leeds and London went into administration at the end of January. Its revenue to April 2012 was £45 million, but debts amounted to £10 million. £400 million IT reseller/integrator, 2e2, with 2,000 staff has also gone into administration.
  • Mothercare Australia has been put into administration by it parent. Its recent performance has been weak and it represented only 7% of Mothercare international sales. Mothercare UK and other subsidiaries are unaffected.
  • Godfrey, the Norwich-based DIY retailer established in the 1980s, with stores in Stowe, Diss and Norwich is to go into liquidation. An attempt in December to focus on the Norwich store of the £5 mn business came to nothing and the business is to be wound down with 51 employees likely to lose their jobs. Sales had been falling since the recession started.
  • Midlands Co-op is to close its eight non-food outlets including department stores in Derby, Coalville, Chesterfield, Stafford, Ilkeston and Wigston plus small furnishings/homeware operations in West Bridgford and Long Eaton. The food operations, by far the biggest part of the business, are unaffected.
  • D.J.Jenkins Stores, operator of five general stores in the East Midlands, has gone into administration because of a downturn in trade affecting 198 employees. All stores are thought likely to close by the end of February.
  • Play.com, the popular etailer, is to close its retail operations and concentrate on acting as an internet third party to other organisations. It is the second largest etailer with 14 million registered users and 500 employees, operating behind the VAT-free regulations (Low Value Consignment Relief) in Jersey. However the value of the company was only £25 mn when acquired by Rakuten, which had also folded its PriceMinister etail business into Play.com. The business can only have been marginally profitable because, when the VAT-free status was withdrawn by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2012, the etailer decided to close its retail operations. It has not gone bust but beat a strategic retreat. Other parts of the business continue unaffected.
  • La Senza, , the remains of the women lingerie retailer bought out of administration in 2012, is to go into liquidation. Alshaya bought 60 of the original 140 stores in 2012, saving 1,100 jobs. The liquidation is thought to be a financial reorganisation not affecting La Senza's current operations. The European arm is also to be liquidated.
  • Sony Centre, the East Midlands based electronics and electrical goods retailers, has closed its stores in Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln and Leicester and its staff of 24 have been made redundant. The parent company is Raresupply Company.
  • Gio Gio, the menswear retailer sold in JD Sports, USC, Littlewoods, Republic, Lifestyle and independents, went into administration in mid-January and its staff of 24 have been made redundant. It closed three stores last summer (Aberdeen, Glasgow and Manchester) but could not stem continued losses.
  • Blockbuster, the national chain of video (rental) stores, went into administration in mid January. There are 528 stores with 4,190 employees. Like HMV the chain was a former market leader, adversely affected by the importance of video downloads and online rentals and DVD sales.
  • HMV, the last UK chain of music and entertainment stores, went into administration after a weak Christmas and years of fighting a losing battle against downloads and online retailers. There are 238 stores and 4,350 employees. HMV is still trading though it is unlikely to attract a buyer for the whole business. The failure of HMV is likely to be a 'Woolworths' moment' where shoppers (and no-longer shoppers) realise that a changing world is exactly that.
  • Ethel Austin, the 32 remaining stores of the once-flourishing budget chain (which had 300 stores at one time), were closed immediately in January as the company went into administration for the fourth time. In July 2012, Liric bought 32 stores from the restructuring specialist GA Europe, but the company has been unable to continue. See below for previous administrations.
  • Jessops, the only national UK camera retailer, was the first major retailer to go into administration in 2013. It had grown from around 50 stores in 1994, acquired Camera Crew and City Camera Exchange, and had more than 200 stores by 2002. It sold its central premises in 2008, avoided administration in 2009 by carrying out a debt for equity swap (involving HSBC taking 47% of its equity and a £34mn debt write-off). The administrators closed down Jessops' 193 stores and fired its 2,000 staff, two days after taking control, partly at the instigation of Jessop's suppliers. Goods were returned to suppliers, who had become concerned that a 'fire sale' of under-price merchandise by Jessops' would undermine everyone's businesses for the following few months.
  • In France, Virgin Megastores (1000 staff and 25 stores) is to close under pressure from online competition. Our legal advisors point out that it is owned by an investment company not Sir Richard Branson.
  • Italy: FNAC and Blockbuster have announced they will close their Italian operations.
  • Ethel Austin/Life&Style: the administrators have stated that they may take action against 'certain parties' as a result of the failure of Life&Style in 2011.
  • K Village, a shopping outlet opened in Kendall in June 2010, went into administration in January. It failed to attract sufficient tenants.

Failures in 2012

  • Green & Blue Wines, ethical retailer of organic wines in the London area, went out of business in December. Highly-targeted businesses of this character have found the UK a very inclement market since the recession started.
  • Wine Shak, a chain of 14 off-licences created out of the ruins of Thirst Quench (Oddbins, Threshers), went into administration in December, taking with it Hampshire-based Wickham Vineyards (the owner). The main thrust of the chain was to support English wine, positioned between "high-end specialist shops and where Wine Rack was before". Fifty-eight staff are involved, 34 from the stores and 24 from the vineyard. Wickham Vineyards was bought back from the administrators in 2013.
  • Nidd Vale Motors, the Harrogate-based Yorkshire car firm selling Vauxhall, Seat and Mazda, went into administration in December. There are 105 employees over two sites. The company had existed for 92 years but problems with their bank led to the appointment of administrators.
  • Manor Furniture, near Swindon, went into administration in November as a result of a slowing of trade and problems with their suppliers. The company had been in existence for 18 years.
  • Whiteleys Garden Centre in Mirfield, Huddersfield, went into administration in November and is currently on the market. Annual sales are £2 mn and there are 45 staff.
  • Walmsley's, the Walsall-based furniture chain, went into administration for the third time in seven years in November. There are 24 stores and 105 staff. It was bought by turnround specialist SKG Capital in 2011.
  • Famous Footwear, the loss-making chain with £15 mn sales and 21 stores and 21 concessions, went into administration in November. It is owned by the shareholders of the shoe manufacturer Jacobson Group who bought the company to give them access to the retail market.
  • The Web Group, owners of Book Club Associates, Choices UK (once 2nd-largest DVD/video game retailer), and five other brands, went into administration in October. The companies have ceased trading. Choices UK itself closed in April 2012. The remaining parts of Webb employ 60 staff.
  • Comet, Britain's second-largest electrical retailer, went into administration in November and the last stores closed in w/c 16 Dec 2012. It was established in 1933 and had grown to 243 stores and 6,500 employees. It suffered as a result of the credit crunch, competition from online retailers, and by not being seen as authoritative in consumer electronics. The final blow was given when its insurers refused trade credit insurance and suppliers demanded to be paid in advance. Part of the Kingfisher Group since the 1980s, it traded suboptimally for years and went to Darty (Kesa Group). Kesa sold it for £2 to OpCapita and gave OpCapita £50 mn to take it away. OpCapita have now obviously given up the ghost.
  • J Harris & Sons, long-established Cheshire furniture retailer, went into administration in September and has been closed down. It traded as Andrew Harris Furniture and Mr Bedds.
  • United Carpets put its subsidiary, Northern Carpets into pre-pack administration early in October, then bought back most of the assets. It intends to renegotiate rents downwards as an alternative to closure. There are 420 staff. It is assumed that 20% or so of these stores will close shortly.
  • Romida Sports, a small cricketing specialist established for 30 years, went into administration in September. There were stores in Rochdale, Maghull, Brighouse and Leatherhead in Surrey. There are 10 employees.
  • Optical Express, with 200 branches providing laser eye surgery, has put its Southern subsidiary into administration. It closed its 40 worst stores the day after the subsidiary went into administration (though most affected staff will be switched to the remaining stores). 40 other stores are transferring to the main company along with 750 staff.
  • Stratford Wine Agencies, a 30-year old firm importing and distributing wine (based in Cookham not Stratford on Avon), went into administration in September. The assets were bought by F E Barber. There were 19 employees.
  • Mostyn's, the curtain and soft furnishings company established in 1950 with 128 staff, went into administration and was bought as a going concern. Sales last year were £7 mn.
  • JJB Sports, the struggling sportswear retailer with 4,000 staff and 180 stores, went into administration in September. Its 20 best stores have been bought by Sports Direct and a few others have been picked up by other retailers, but the rest have closed and the staff sacked. US-chain Dick's Sporting Goods announced in August that it had written off the £20 mn investment in JJB that it had made in April.
  • Hein Gericke UK, the UK arm of the dominant German motor bike dealer, went into administration in early August. It has 49 stores, a catalogue and online business, with around 200 staff. It is a separate business from the German operation, which is unaffected by the administration and trades throughout the rest of Europe. A new buyer was found (completion in September) and the business is expected to continue much as before.
  • Fultons Fine Furnishings, one of Northern Irelands best-known retailers (three stores) trading at the upper end of the market, went into administration in July. It was started 50 years ago and has 57 employees. It follows another high-quality NI furniture retailer that closed down in 2011.
  • Ethel Austin, the low-price clothing retailer that has now failed four times, was placed in administration in July by Ashloch Ltd, the company that had bought it out of administration in August 2011. Ashloch stated early in 2012 that there was £5+ mn of stock missing and they refused to pay the full purchase price. There are 60 stores, compared to 300 stores in 2010. 32 stores and the 'Ethel Austin' brand have been purchased from administration by Ricli Limited (owned by Mike Basso), saving 200 jobs.
  • Bathroom Emporium, a Lancashire-based bathroom showroom/online business, ultimately failed as a result of local price competition and excessive amounts of stock.
  • Julian Graves, the natural food store, was one of the first retailers to go into administration in July. Since its purchase from Baugur, the Icelandic group, in 2008 it lost £2 mn pa. There are around 189 stores and 755 employees, mostly part-time. Its owner is NBTY which also own Holland and Barrett that currently is trading strongly and in unaffected by the problems of Julian Graves.
  • Allders of Croydon, the third-largest department store in the UK, went into administration in June threatening the livelihoods of 300 people. It had been rescued from previous failure by Harold Tillman but succumbed to the general retail malaise and the problems of the other parts of Tillman's group (see below, Aquascutum).
  • Cecil Jacobs, the Leicester-based camera retailer with 19 stores and 154 employees, went into administration early in June. It was established 70 years ago. By mid-June the administrators had closed all its stores except London Road, Leicester. By the end of the month only 25 staff will have been retained
  • Peters Bakery, the North-Eastern multiple baker and retailer with 58 stores and 403 employees, went into administration in June. As well as its retail chain, it supplied leading supermarkets and wholesalers.
  • Masai GB, the UK distributor of MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) shoes, went into administration following its Swiss parent's filing for bankruptcy. There are 10 stores and sales of around £10 million.
  • Rhythm and Booze (R and M Swaine), a Yorkshire-based drinks chain with outlets also in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire , collapsed in April with losses of £7 mn. It was bought out of administration by Bibby Retail Services (trades as Costcutter). There were 68 stores, mainly loss making, many of which had been bought from Thirstquench in 2009. The 425 staff are expected to transfer to the new owners.
  • Wallace Clement Interiors, a quality home furnishings retailer set up in 1906 with stores in Diss and Cambridge, went into administration in mid-May after a long period of declining sales. The website (on 15 May 2012) seemed to be unaware of this. Its former Norwich store closed in 2011. There are around 30 employees
  • Joscelyne, the long-established furniture retailer, went into administration early in May. Founded in 1878, it has 6 Clement Joscelyne stores in the south-east, and owns two Ligne Roset stores in London and Charles Page. There are almost 100 employees. The reason given for the failure is recent worsening in trading conditions.
  • Clinton Cards, which operates 628 Clinton and 139 Birthdays stores, went into administration early in May. Its US supplier, American Greetings, bought its £35 mn loan from its bankers and the company has had to apply for administration. The company has been struggling for several years. There are 8.500 employees. The fall is caused by weakfish management, high rents, the slump in consumer demand, and the purchases of not-very-good card companies.
  • Micro Anvika, the Tottenham Court Road electronics retailer has closed four of its stores. A CVA with creditors will allow it to continue operating with two stores in London and one in Newcastle. Its mail order business will also remain. Staff numbers have fallen from 140 to 48.
  • Allied Floors, which bought the remains of Allied Carpets in 2011, itself went into administration in April. It has been purchased pre-pack by Scotland-based General George, which has 8 stores selling carpets, laminates and flooring. This deal saves the 9 Allied stores and 41 jobs.
  • D&d Wines International, the wine shippers and importers based in Knutsford, went into administration in April. It supplies 600 wines from 25 businesses to supermarkets and cash-and-carry. There are 25 employees. One-half has lost their jobs but it is thought the business will survive.
  • Carsite, the company behind Tesco's unfortunate foray into online second-hand car sales, was placed in administration one day after Tesco announced it was closing its sites. Tesco sold only 140 vehicles a month and explained that it was hard to get hold of good stock. About every 10 years a grocer has a go at selling cars or doing car repairs, including Sainsbury's in the mid 80s and ASDA in the 90s. It never works. The problems can be seen in the economics classic The Market for Lemons. Unless you have read that don't sell second-hand cars.
  • Instyle Furniture and the R&M Deluxe Upholstery/Holdings, which produced and sold its own furniture and chairs, went into administration in April. The Aberdeen and Glasgow stores have closed: it continues to trade from its Uddingston store and the Hillington HO remains open. There are 45 employees of this Scottish firm, founded in 1983.
  • Acquascutum, the famous fashion name bought by Harold Tilman, was placed into administration in April following the sale of Tilman's Jaeger. The factory in Corby was immediately closed with the loss of 115 jobs. There are another 135 retail and HO employees, working in 3 stores and 16 concessions. The company made a £10 mn loss in 2010 on sales of £28 mn. The company dated from 1851, making waterproof coats in the Crimean war. These garments adapted for use in WWI became known as 'trench coats'. The vicious weather in the Crimean war gave rise to a number of fashions such as the cardigan, the balaclava, and beards.
  • John Frackleton and Son, the Northern Ireland bathroom and tile retailer went into administration in April. It has ntwo showrooms and 15 staff.
  • Houston Fashions, the Northern Ireland retailer (68 staff) with 4 stores in the Province and two in Eire went into administration early in April.
  • Webb Brothers, the Midlands Electrical retailer with 7 stores (some trading as 'Panasonic') went into administration in April. All stores except for the Cannock one have been closed and 15 out of 21 staff have been made redundant.
  • Ellie Louise, the women's fashion retailer that operates 97 stores under the names Budget Box, Gimbles, Seconds Ahead, Trade Secret, Happit and Ellie Louise, went into administration at the beginning of April. It has 400 staff and also sells lingeries and jewellery.
  • DBC Foodservice, bulk wholesaler and supplier for convenience, smaller supermarkets and independent stores, went into administration at the end of March. Although sales rose by 10% to £302 mn its profits collapsed from £1.3 mn to a loss of £4.95 mn. DBC had 12 depots and 1,000 staff. It served retail, catering, pubs, education, business and the Ministry of Defence from 12 depots. Trade insurers removed cover, larger suppliers pressed for invoices to be paid in full and changed to cash pro forma arrangements, and there was no likelihood that the dire cash position could be reversed. The main contracts have already been sold to Brakes and Vestey, leaving around 40% of the business to be transferred elsewhere. 250 jobs have already gone. DBC was set up 110 years ago as the Danish Bacon Company. In the 50s and 60s it was a pioneer of voluntary groups for independent retailers.
  • Game Group, the UK-based retailer of computer games, suspended dealing in its shares on 20 March having decided that there was no more equity left in its shares. Rent was due at the end of that week and Game was trying to raise £180 mn. In the UK there are 600 stores and 6,000 employees, all of which are now in jeopardy. Game is the largest specialist videogame retailer in Europe with 1,300 stores in total and 10,000 employees. The company will certainly need to restructure, whether or not it actually goes into administration.
  • Firetrap, the high street fashion brand, has been bought out of administration by Sports Direct. Its brands, Firetrap UK and FullCircle, and the wholesale business have been saved along with 170 jobs but Firetrap's 6 stores have been ditched costing 51 jobs. Sports Direct also bought USC and Cruise this year.
  • Azendi, the Leeds-based jeweller with 17 stores, went into administration in March. There are around 80 staff.
  • Fenn Wright Manson, the fashion retailer with 17 stores and 62 concessions in department stores like John Lewis and House of Fraser, went into administration in early March. It has 350 staff and continues to trade awaiting a buyer.
  • Shoe Envy, the popular women's shoes website trading at www.shoe-envy.co.uk, closed down without warning at the end of February. It had been trading for 10 years. It operated on Amazon as well through its own site and had shoe-envy Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn corporate sites.
  • Madhouse (or Deluxe Retail Limited), discount young men's fashion chain selling Lee Cooper and Nike at a discount, went into administration again suddenly in February. Its previous version was as Cromwell's Madhouse. There are 700 employees and we guess around 38 stores.
  • Rowlands Clothing of Trowbridge (Wiltshire), aimed at slightly older ladies, went briefly into administration in February before being purchased by New World Private Equity. There are seven stores and a mail order and internet operation based at Southwick. 60 jobs have been saved although there have been eight redundancies.
  • Twickenham Film Studies has entered receiverships and will close finally in June. It was established almost 100 years ago and Alfie (Michael Caine) was made there, the anti-landlord film by Roman Polanski Repulsion and the studios were used by the Beatles for A Hard Day's Night and Help. More recently the studios have been used in making The Iron Lady and Warhorse.
  • Shoon Limited, a family-owned retailer in the south of England selling shoes and clothing, went into administration in February having failed to sell some of its loss-making stores. The company employs 280 staff and has 23 stores.
  • Abbeycrest, the manufacturer and distributor of jewellery, went into administration in February although its Brown and Newirth subsidiary survived through a previous MBO. The manufacturing business in Thailand also survives. A shrinking order book and the jump in gold prices made it impossible for the company to continue.
  • Ugo, the hard discounter created by Haldanes from ex-Netto stores acquired from Asda, has been sold to Poundstretcher. The stores will become part of Poundstretcher saving 300 jobs. The company itself did not go bust but it had been an unsuccessful operation based on 20 stores across the North and the north Midlands. A buyer pulled out of a previous sale early in January. Haldanes retail itself went bust in June 2011, blaming The Co-op for selling it some allegedly duff stores. Remaining are some bakery stores (trading as Bakery Products) and three plant bakeries.
  • United Retail, the American operator of 433 Avenue plus-size stores applied for bankruptcy protection under US law in February, seeking relief from the high costs of its leases.
  • Pumpkin Patch, the retailer of children's clothes, has gone into administration. It has 36 stores in the UK with 400 staff. Five stores have already been closed with the loss of 60 jobs. The New Zealand-based company's operations in other territories are unaffected.
  • Peacocks, the fashion chain, has posted a notice of intent to appoint an administrator covering the Peacocks chain and BonMarche. There are 550 stores and 9,600 employees. BonMarche was subsequently sold for £10mn to Sun European Partners, although 160 stores will close and 1,400 jobs lost.
  • La Senza, the lingerie retailer with 146 stores, announced at the end of December 2011 that it planned to enter administration in early Jan 2012 as part of a KPMG-planned company rescue. There are 2,600 employees.
  • Past Times, the modern antique-based business selling retro Wm Morris, Pre-raphelite etc merchandise also announced it planned to go into administration, probably in week 2 of Jan 2012. There are 100 stores and perhaps 1000 employees. It previously went bust in 2005 and was acquired by Epic Private Equity. In 2010 it turned over £45 mn, but made losses of £1.5 mn. Epic also owns Whittards, the tea company, which is doing OK and is not affected by Past Times' problems. Whittards is still separate although originally there was talk of running the stores together.
  • Blacks Leisure, the outdoor sports, camping and recreational stores, announced in December that after putting itself up for sale it had received no bids. The next stage is probably the sale of subsidiaries, although a new bidder may still emerge. However pre-pack administration is still likely to form part of the process. The company has announced that its equity shares have little or no value at present. There are 98 Blacks stores and 208 Milletts shops. There are 3,885 employees.

Failures in 2011

  • Hawkin's Bazaar, the source of novelty gifts and stocking fillers, appointed administrators on the last working day of December 2011. There are 400 staff and 120 stores. It did not go into full legal administration but was bought by the management, although 65 stores were closed and 300-odd staff made redundant
  • D2 Jeans, the Scot-based denim specialist chain originally set up by Tom Hunter, went into administration for the second time in 2 years at the end of December as the first of several expected retail failures. There were 47 stores, of which 19 were immediately shut with 200 employees dismissed, and there are 300 more employees in the remaining stores and head office. When it previously failed the existing management bought 40 out of its 80 outlets, saving 500 jobs. Most of the stores are in secondary locations.
  • Some Non-retail Failures. Saab GB, Portsmouth FC parent company, Battersea Power Station Professional Ventures (owner of Marriott Hotel Group), Venture Hotel Group, and Paramount Restaurants (3 Bertorelli restaurants, 4 Livebaits, 18 Brasseries Gerards having sold 8 Chez Gerard restaurants to Raymond Blanc before going into admin) all went into administration in December or November - just to show that it is not only retailing that is in trouble.
  • Barratts, The shoe chain (Barratts Priceless), went into administration in December 2011. It operates 191 stores, 391 concessions, and employs 3,840 people. Footwear and fashion have been trading badly for several years and this finally did not Barratts. It previously went bust in 2009.
  • Cooks Bakery, coffee shop and bakers, went into admin in November. Now with 8 stores and 62 employees it had 120 bakers' and coffee shops five year ago, It took over 123 bakeries from The Three Cooks in 2006.
  • Broadmarsh Centre: Westfield announced in November it was selling its 75% stake in Nottingham's Broadmarsh Centre, one of two major shopping malls in the City, to Capital Shopping Centres (CSC) the owner of the Victoria Centre. Westfield had been waiting for some years to launch the redevelopment of the centre and the surrounding area in conjunction with the city council. Building work was to start a fortnight later! The recession and its impact upon retailing made Westfield doubt whether the Broadmarsh revamp would ever be profitable. The change in ownership will inevitably affect the range of shops in the city, the timing and the scale of redevelopment. But there is no point in opening a revamped shopping centre that is incapable of being profitable. Westfield, the Australian big hitter, has had a major impact on UK retailing with its two shopping malls in London and obviously Nottingham was no longer on their strategic map.
  • MFI (remember them?) is opening up as an online retailer in November-December 2011.
  • Best Buy, the Carphone-Warehouse controlled electrical chain, is the close by the end of the year. Best Buy was to be the start of a completely new way of selling electricals in Britain and Europe. It hoped to operate 200 stores by 2013 in conjunction with the US big electricals beast, Best Buy, which invested £1 billion in Carphone Warehouse and the project. The new chain of 11 stores lost £47 million in the most recent trading period. Carphone Warehouse also sold its US cellphone business (sales $838 million), Best Buy Mobile, to its US partner, Best Buy.
  • Comet, in the same week as the Best Buy news, the UK second-largest electricals group, Comet, was sold by KESA for £2 with additional support of £50 million. The company has not gone into administration but obviously the owners were anxious to end their involvement. Sales fell by 18.6% in the previous six months.
  • Alexon, the fashion chain, went into pre-pack administration at the end of September. The group owns 990 outlets trading as Ann Harvey, Kaliko, Dash and Eastex employing 2,700 staff. Sun European bought the company out of administration saving the group, but at the costof shareholders (loss £4 mn), suppliers and HMRC (lost £12 mn).
  • Walmsley, the 60-store furniture retailer, went into administration in September 2011, following in the heels of Habitat, Lombok, and Floors-2-Go. Sales in 2010 were £26 million. 38-ish stores have already been closed (mainly in North and Wales) and the remaining 25 have been bought by equity group SKG. Walmsley was established in 1933.
  • Floors-2-Go, the floorcovering firm established in 1999, collapsed for the second time (the first time was 2008) in late August. 53 of 88 stores were closed with the los of 200 job, and the remainder were sold to a new company set up by two of the former directors. Before 2008 the company had 132 stores.
  • Lombok, the furniture chain, went into administration in August for the second time in two years. Nine of its stores closed immediately, leaving three remaining outlets and a concession in the HoF. In a pre-pack deal the existing owner, Angora, has purchased the assets from the administrator.
  • Ireland: Superquinn, the upmarket grocery chain with €500 mn annual sales around Dublin went into receiverships in mid-July, but was bought by Musgrave the next day. Known as a very innovative retailer in its day, its combination of service, range, prepared food and prices was hard to maintain in the current Irish trading climate. The deal makes Musgrave the largest supermarket group in Ireland.
  • TJ Hughes, the off-price general-store retailer, appointed an administrator on the last business day of June. There are 57 stores and 4,000 employees.
  • Jane Norman,the fashion chain with 90 outlets, went into administration at the end of June. 1,600 jobs are at risk. It had £140 mn of debts and was badly affected by the economic slowdown, a rotten Christmas, and the fact that clothing sales were sharply down in the first two quarters of 2011.
  • Habitat, the symbol of the swinging 60s (the chicken brick and cous-cous equipment being particular favourites [No, I never bought them: think I'm made of money?]) is to be sold by Hilco as a UK brand to Homebase, most of the stores being closed. Of the 33 remaining stores, it is expected that three will remain. There are 900 staff. However Habitat will continue as a store-within-a-store in Homebase. The international arm, which has a good reputation abroad (think France) is to be sold to another company.
  • Homeform, the kitchens and bathrooms business with 2010 sales of £152 mn, has filed notice to appoint administrators. The bathroom retailers, Moben and Dolphin, are to be sold as free-standing concerns. The future of Sharps and Kitchens Direct expect to be saved as part of a deal to continue the business.
  • McCormick's Music Shop in Glasgow, iconic record shop - appearances from Rolling Stones and The Eagles - has been trading poorly for 3 years and gone into administration. It is thought it can be saved as a going concern.
  • Life & Style, the 91-store fashion lifestyle chain formed from the ruins of Ethel Austin, went into administration in June 2011. It had gone bust in 2010 and had been bought from the administrator by Elaine MacPherson (former CEO of Ethel Austin).
  • Haldanes, the grocery retailer with 26 stores, went into administration in June. It trades as UGO and Haldanes Express. There are 600 staff. It bought several ex-Somerfield stores from the Co-op and has been complaining bitterly about their trading performance. One of the last acts of the Board was to issue a Notice of Claim against the Co-operative Group.
  • Canada: Blockbuster has been put into receivership by a court to sort out whether there are sufficient funds to repay money owed to film studios and other suppliers.
  • Bruce Millars, independent music shop in Aberdeen, is up for sale to avoid admin. It is the biggest supplier of musical instruments and has a wide range of TV and audio. In the 60s and 70s it was probably the biggest such store in the North East (of Scotland),
  • Shopping Centre problems. The British Council of Shopping Centres estimates that one-fifth of UK shopping malls is in financial difficulties. Companies with combined assets of £10 bn are in breach of their covenants and may default. Around 20 secondary shopping centres are already on the market. Many assets were purchased at the top of the market. Selling them now will further depress prices. But banks like Lloyds and keen to get the no-hopers off their balance sheets.
  • Focus DIY chain, with 3,919 employees and 170 stores, applied for administration in May 2011. It is a large-ish operation but lacked authority in a weak DIY market that has been hammered by low property sales since 2007/8. It was merged with the Do-It-All chain in the 1980s (trading as Focus Do-It-All) and was owned by Boots in the days when every self-respecting retailer had a DIY chain, including W H Smith, Sainsbury’s and Boots.
  • ETS, a chain of 6 electrical household appliances stores, based in Bodmin has gone into administration (poor trading for several years). It has 57 employees.
  • HiHo Jewellers, the handmade jewellery company in the SW with 14 stores and an online business, went into administration in April. There were 55 employees and sales of £3.5 mn. It is believed that the stores have closed and the management has bought the online business from the administrator.
  • BeCheeky, the UK online lingerie etailer, ceased trading in March and is likely to go into liquidation quite soon. It was set up in 2005. Turnover was £1 mn pa, but it never made a profit. Its name and site has been purchased by LoveHoney.com
  • U.S.A. American Apparel, the American youthful street fashion retailer aimed at young people aged 8 to 80 (and run by charmers), has declared it is destined for Chapter 13, which under the US Bankruptcy codes provides protection from creditors whilst it reorganises in an attempt to pay off its creditors – or at least make them an offer.
  • Oddbins, see below, has now gone into administration with all 400 jobs at risk. The HMRC refused to accept its proposals so there was no legal alternative except administration. Some stores may survive either as stand-alone outlets or elements in other chains.
  • Alworths, the successor to Woolworths, went into administration at the end of March. Its 17 stores with 235 staff are still trading. It was hoping to restructure but obviously either its trading was very dire or the poor outlook frightened (or both) so it has taken the administration route.
  • Easy Living Furniture, Sofas UK retail trading name, went into administration at the end of March. It has 20 outlets in the South of England employing 150 people and an online site.
  • The Officers Club, discount fashion chain, has gone into administration again, but half its stores have already been sold to young fashion retailer, Blue Inc. Officers Club employs 900 people in 102 stores, 46 of which (400 staff) have now gone to Blue Inc.
  • Henleys, a young fashion brand, put its retail arm into administration in March, closing 18 stores and dismissing 200 employees. Reasons: poor trading, lease problems.
  • Dekko, a NI-based furniture retailer (2 stores), has announced it will wind down its business over the next few months and close. Reason: poor trading conditions.
  • Autoquake, one of the largest online retailers of used cars, went into administration in March. It was founded in 2005 and bought used cars at auction and resold them online. The website was successful, but it is hard market (you don't sell your car unless there is something wrong with it).
  • Shakeaway Milk Bars, the Bournemouth-based retailer with 55 owned and franchised milk bars in the UK, Cyprus, Australia and Abu Dhabi has gone into administration. One half the stores have been bought by a new company, running 15 owned bars and 25 franchised.
  • Arrogant Cat, the celebrity fashion chain with three stores, went into administration in March. Customers included Mischa Barton, Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse, Peaches Geldof and Katie Price. No redundancies are planned and Arrogant Cat is expected to find a buyer. Its wholesale operations, the HK flagship store, and franchises in Denmark, Dubai and Kuwait are not included in the administration.
  • Triumph Furniture Company, Merthyr Tydfil, with a London showroom and facilities in Solihull and The Netherlands (sales £23 million) has been put up for sale by the administrators.
  • Oddbins, the major wine and beer chain, is to close one-third of its stores, dismiss 15 out of 60 HQ staff, and require landlords of the remaining 89 stores to accept lower rents as part of a CVA in March.
  • Ireland: Birthdays, the Clinton-Card owned Irish operation with 14 stores has been put into administration by its owner. This does not affect the UK Birthdays chain.
  • Bennets, the Norwich-based electricals retailer with 14 branches and 300 employees, went into administration in March. It operated from some impressive stores, but difficult market conditions since the recession and competition from eRetailers had made a harsh trading environment for at least 3 years. The immediate causes were: the withdrawal of credit insurance in November had meant that suppliers would not deliver and the snowy Christmas created further damage.
  • Fenchurch, the fashion chain with four stores and department store concessions, went into administration in March. Its assets were purchased by JD Sports Fashion, but all its staff have been sacked and the Covent Garden Store has already closed. The staff first learnt of their employer's failure when they read an advert selling the company in the Financial Times.
  • Ollie and Nic, the vintage-inspired handbag and accessories chain with 11 stores, went into administration in February. It has been bought out of administration by the original founders and a group of other investors previously associated with Principles, Rubicon and Monsoon.
  • Auto Windscreens, the UK's second-largest windscreen replacement company, ran out of cash in Feb 2011 and ceased trading. The Chesterfield-based (Derbys) business has 1,200 employees, 68 fitting centres, 550 mobile units, a call centre and distribution depot in Witton. The administrators have failed to sell it.
  • Cattles, the private company lending mainly to the poor at high interest rates, avoided administration in Feb 2011 after reaching agreement with its creditors. It will continue to run down its loan book to repay the banks much to the chagrin of its other creditors and bondholders who will receive little. A long-running accounting error led to the downfall of this firm.
  • JJB Sports, the Sportswear/fashion retailer with 250 stores and 6,300 employees, is attempting a second CVA (company voluntary arrangement), involving: renegotiating leases with landlords; the closure of 45 problem stores to be followed by closing a second tranche of 50 stores (depending on the willingness of landlords to reduce rents and how these stores trade); and raising £31.5 mn from shareholders. JJB Sports have raised the money from shareholders, but now need some more. Less than one-half of landlords have agreed the CVA and there is some dispute about whether JJB's approach is valid.
  • USA. Borders, the US bookstore chain (whose UK subsidiary closed down in 2009), has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. It has 674 retail stores, employing 19,500 people, and will close 200 outlets in the next few weeks. Borders has been unable to agree refinancing terms with its banks for debts of $1.29 bn (£627 mn) and assets of $1.28 bn assets.
  • Ireland. Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) reported that 400 stores closed in Ireland during Jan 2011, following a terrible Christmas, poor Jan, upward-only rent reviews and the most savage budget in the history of the state.
  • Greece. Poor Trading has meant that Aldi Sued is closing its 38 Aldi Hellas hard-discount stores by the end of February, losing 500 jobs.
  • Netherlands. Impact Retail, the consumer electrical/IT specialist operator with 118 stores, has filed for bankruptcy under Dutch law, closing both its stores temporarily and its ecommerce site.
  • US. A&P (once 'Atlantic and Pacific') has requested Chapter 11 protection from its creditors. The group, owned by Tengelmann, has 395 outlets suffering from lower-priced competitors and heavy debts. Normally Chapter 11 allows a company to reorganise so it continues to survive.
  • HPJ Jewellers, a discount jewellery firm with 70 (or perhaps 40) stores, has filed notice to appoint administrators. Originally established in 1980 as Half Price Jewellers with limited service, it has been hit by poor Christmas sales, careful consumer spending and online sellers. Bought by restructuring specialists Gordon Bros in Dec 2010, it expects to reduce its rents and close one-half of stores via administration. It also had a period in administration in 2006.
  • British Bookshops and Stationers, a 51-store 'discount' stationery/books chain with 300 employees in the South was the first major retail casualty of the 2011, going into receivership in Jan 2011. Immediate causes were poor Christmas trading, but the longer-term impact of the recession and effect of internet sales on books and office supplies will be the key issues they faced. W H Smith bought 22 BBS stores for £1 mn in February.

Failures in 2010


  • Cruise, the Edinburgh-based fashion chain with 300 employees, went into administration at the very end of December, but was bought along with 10 stores by Tom Hunter (to be run in conjunction with Van Mildert, a NE England fashion retailer with five shops that is run from a converted jail. Tom Hunter sold his Office chain a month earlier so had a bit of spare cash. Two stores were closed by Deloittes, the administrator. And Van Mildert looks pretty good.
  • Balls Brothers, the upmarket watering hole chain in the City, went into Administration in November. Problems with a Barclays loan to buy a competitor was the key issue, with the recession and changes in drinking and eating patterns amongst City drinkers changing patterns of demand. There are 19 restaurants and bars.
  • Suits You, the 66-store formal menswear company (Speciality Retail Group), was put into administration by new owners G A Europe in late October. SRG had gone through a company voluntary arrangement earlier in 2010 but with the sales outlook remaining bleak it was sold to G A Europe.
  • Stokes, the UK's largest greengrocery trader (37 stores), entered voluntary administration in October. 10 stores were immediately closed. There are 277 employees. The rationale for VA was poor sales.
  • Confetti, the weddings businesses, went into administration in 2010 a few days after being sold. Its 5 stores were closed and one-half of its 94 staff dismissed.A separate company (with no link to the previous business) bought the website and the name 'Confetti' and has traded successfully online since then.
  • Mad O'Rouke's Pie Factory, a black-country themed restaurant chain once named 'Restaurant of the Year' in Tipton, West Midlands, went into administration in July, having handed over its Lower Gornall and Wordsley operations to M&B.
  • Thoughts, a greetings card retailer with nine stores in high-profile locations (eg Bull Ring, Westfield and St David's) got in difficulties when its banking facilities were withdrawn and was bought out of administration by the previous owners as Thought Card Retail.
  • Vergo Retailing, a 20-store department and jewellery store chain with 940 employees, closed many of its operations in 2010. The chain was originally set up in 2007 to run the Lewis's, Robbs and Joplings department stores (sold by Owen Owen). In 2009 it bought Coop department stores in Devon and Cornwall (eg Derry's in Plymouth), East of England Coop Homemaker stores in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex (350 staff) and a jewellery store. Most of these have been closed or are apparently closing, although it is possible that some will survive. Administrators were appointed in May.
  • Fashionair, the up-market fashion website established as 'an entertainment and shopping platform' was forced to cease trading in May and the staff have been made redundant. Fashionair was founded on the initiative of Simon Fuller (ex-manager of the Spice Girls) but US-based owners CKx decided to close it down after a review. The Clothes Whisperer felt that all Fashionair's news about what fashionistas actually do was pretty offputting to young wenches whose nearest Jimmy Choos is simply miles away.
  • Laser Electrical, a 10-store chain of hi-fi/audio retailers in Northern Ireland, went into administration and the stores were closed when no buyer was forthcoming. This cost 140 jobs.
  • Labsport, the branded sportswear chain, fell into admin in April and closed its 8 stores. 80 staff have gone. One innovative feature of LabSport was co-development of brands; every supplier was allocated a section of the store and could merchandise it as they wished.
  • Faith Shoes, 1800 jobs, 78 stores and 120 concessions, went into administrations in April after desperately seeking a buyout. Hilco has taken control of the company's £14M debts.
  • Envy! , This fashionwear chain with 23 stores and 20 department store concessions went into administration in April three weeks after being sold. It is likely to continue in a reduced format.
  • Not Only Shops! , In February and March 2010 we have seen the administration of Jarvis Engineering, Highlands Airways, Crystal Palace Football Club, Premier League Portsmouth Football Club, exclusive London restaurant Cipriani, Readers Digest (UK), Snowsport GB (UK governing body) and Landsdowne, the UK's largest driving school (trading as RED).
  • Speciality Retail Group, owner of Suits You and Racing Green, made a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with creditors (including landlords) that will initially save 300 jobs but result in closing 42 out of the current 73 stores over the next 18 months. The stores to close will mainly be High Street. A CVA arrows a struggling retailer to get out of rental agreements they can no longer afford - as an alternative to closure. SRG's landlords have agreed a 40% rent reduction in the marginal sites.
  • Ethel Austin, value clothing retailer with 300 stores, and Au Naturelle have appointed administrators. Both companies have found it hard to pay suppliers since before Christmas. It went bust previously in 2008. It is expected that the administrators will close one-half the group's 270 stores affecting around 40% of the 3,100 retail staff; by Feb, there had been 470 redundancies at the now-closed warehouse and headquarters, and 1000 retail staff have lost their jobs as 114 stores have closed. The Austin family sold it in 2002. The company was originally founded in Liverpool by Mrs Austin in her living room.
  • Adili, the ethical fashion e-tailer (slogan, 'we're committed to ethical, we're committed to cool') trading as Ascension Online, suspended its shares in early February because it had failed to secure future financing. Adili ran into cash problems at the end of 2009; it had revenues of £299,000 with costs of £886,000 at about this time. The business has now been bought by Luke Heron for £1 has been renamed ASCENSION and will stress higher price point items. Heron also owns Green Baby, the ethical e-nursery provider.
  • Diamonds and Pearls, the jewellery company, went into pre-pack administration in February for the second time in 12 months. A consortium of suppliers, Renaissance Jewellery, bought it out of admin after a few hours, but 100 people have been made redundant. There are now 50 stores and 200 jobs; 30 stores of the predecessor company were closed.
  • Adams, the children's clothing store, has fallen into administration for the third time in two years. John Shannon first bought it from the administrators in 2007, rescued it from a second failure in Feb 2009, sold it to Habib Alvi in September 2009, then appointed administrators again in January 2010. There are 125 store and more than 2000 staff.
  • D2, the 79-store fashion chain once owned by Tom Hunter, went into administration at the end of December. It has closed 2 of its 3 Irish stores, but the 77 remaining UK stores continue to trade. 22 staff at the HQ in Scotland have been made redundant.
  • Head, the entertainment chain set up by Simon Douglas after the collapse of Zavvi, closed down in December 2009. Several ex-Virgin/Zavvi stores were bought from the administrator, but Liverpool and Sheffield have closed, Leeds and Dundee are closing, and Bristol and Brum are about to.
  • Virgin Cosmetics [renamed Effective Costmetics] , closed in Jan 2010. Originally launched in 1997 with a characteristic blaze of publicity from Britain's favourite entrepreneur it expected to open 2 stores a month and to have 100 in 5 years. Virgin Cosmetics created losses and half its shops were closed when Branson sold the business and it became Effective Cosmetics a couple of years ago. Under the terms of the announcement, 80 staff will lose their jobs. The business lost £1 M on sales of £1.7 M in the five months to end August.