Who’s Gone Bust in Retail?

Who’s Gone Bust in UK Retailing in 2007-2024?

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Review 2007-2024

  Businesses Failing No. Stores Affected No. Employees Affected
2024 (to end-June  19 328 11,963
2023 (12 months) 61 971 20,642
2022 (12 months) 49 2,318 34,907
2021 (12 months) 19 1,758 26,274
2020 (12 months) 54 5,214 109,407
2019 (12 months) 43 2,051 46,506
2018 (12 months) 43 2,594 46,014
2017 (12 months) 44 1,383 12,225
2016 (12 months) 30 1,504 26,110
2015 (12 months) 29 728 6,845
2014 (12 months) 43 1,314 12,335
2013 (12 months) 49 2,500 25,140
2012 (12 months) 54 3,951 48,142
2011 (12 months) 31 2,469 24,045
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

Analysis of Major Retail Failures 2008-19

Who’s Gone Bust in 2024 by Company 

Please Note: the figures given above are provided as a measure of the stresses faced by the retail sector in any given year. They refer ONLY to the UK and only include retail companies - not American businesses and not restaurants, cafes, food services, hairdressers or tattooists. Where a business is named, below, this normally means it has gone through a legal process termed 'administration' . It should not be taken as meaning that the business has not survived or is no longer trading, because many do so or continue as online-only. Further discussion can be found at the bottom of this webpage in the section headed 'What is Included and Excluded'.  

  • Laybuy, a 'buy now, pay later' supplier of finance to consumers, has suspended its operations, preventing new transactions being made and placed its Australian and NZ companies into receivership, but not its UK arm. The UK business naturally operates under a different set of legal requirements compared to the larger Australian and NZ businesses. Cutomers are advised to continue making payments to honour existing agreements. Updates for the UK will be published here: www.fticonsulting.com/uk/creditors-portal/laybuy-uk . For legal reasons, the Centre for Retail Research cannot help or advise consumers or retail businesses on how best to respond to these circumstances or on the outlook for Laybuy. There are believed to be around 2,500 UK merchants signed up to Laybuy and 300,000 UK users. 
  • Wonder Group, a party-supplies retailer and distributor (previously Amscan) is to go into administration following a fall in demand for party and costume products. There are 200 UK staff.
  • Smiffeys, a Leeds-based fancy-dress retailer with four outlets (established in 1894), went into administration following a fall in sales and increased costs, but has been bought out in pre-pack by Ad Populum. Ad Populum is an American retailer of fancy dress, gifts and novelties that owns several brands, including Wizzkids, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association and Kidrobot.. 
  • Thornrose Limited, trading as Shaun Leane, a major jewellery designer, has gone into administration. There are 30 wholesale outlets that sell his goods. The  business has been put up for sale by the administrators. . 
  • Online retailer Morrison McConnell (trading as Viyella-online) is to go into administration. This Riddings (Derbyshire)-based Company sells Viyella-branded shirts and other clothing to smaller retailers and private customers. Viyella was originally a large manufacturing operation in the county with Viyella being the name of a  a wool-cotten blended fabricv, which went bust in 2009, before being acquired by menswear retailer Austin Reed, which also went into administration. 
  • Eddy's Food Station, a small Scottish convencience-store group, has entered administration. There are four stores. 
  • Muji, the Japanese-owned retailer, placed its European arm into administration in April 2024. All stores and e-commerce will continue to trade, while management restructures the business. There are six stores in the UK, mostly in London, as well as stores in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. In 2021 (the date of the most recent accounts) .the business lost £15m. Its 2023 accounts are eight months overdue. 
  • Logistics Group Limited, the former holding company of delivery-business Yodel, was put into administation at the end of March. Yodel itself was sold to YDLGP (a new company backed by the founder of delivery-business Shift). Several other businesses, including the Daily Telegraph, Spectator, Very Group and formerly Yodel are owned by the Barclay family, which owes money to Lloyds Bank, which led to the Bank taking control over some of the Barclay family assets (according to The Times). The sale of the Telegraph Group is held up by the UK Government because of concerns that a foreign government may thereby control important news channels. The future of Very Group, the online business, is not currently known, but may possibly be acquired by a third party as a means of paying off part of the debt owed to Lloyds Banking Group. 
  • Ted Baker, the high street fashion retailer, is appointing administrators (March 2024) to rescue the business. There are 45 Ted Baker stores in the UK (and 40+ concessions) and almost 1,000 employees. By early June 2024, 31 of its US sites and 9 Candian sites had closed or were in the process of cling and its US website also is closing. ve Ted Baker started in Glasgow as a menswear store, but now has stores and an online business in the UK, U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Its founder was forced to quit as CEO in 2019. It suffered like many other fashion businesses during Covid and built up deficits in 2022-3. Authentic Brand Group (ABG) owns the Ted Baker brand, along with Reebok, Hunter and Juicy Couture. Ted Baker in the UK and other European countries is licensed (from ABG) to No Ordinary Design Label (NODL), but NODL does not manage the Ted Baker business. Its retail operations (online and offline) have been run in the last few years by a Dutch firm, AARC, though the relationship was ended by ABG in January 2024. Although ABG had provided a short-term loan to AARC, Ted Baker's performance had not improved and there was no sign that AARC were prepared to put the necessary funding to support and develop the Ted Baker business.
  • Matchesfashion, the online clothes retailer known as Matches (acquired by Frasers in December 2023), and its proprietor (M F Bidco Limited) were put into administration in March 2024. Frasers paid £52m to purchase the business, but has reported that Matchesfashion has been badly hit by the Europe-wide decline in sales of luxury goods and has missed performance targets set following the takeover. Similar problems have been seen in Matches' luxury competitors, Net A Porter and Farfetch (see FarFetch issues below). In its last financial year it lost £70m (pretax) on total sales of £380m, roughly double the previous year's losses. Matchesfasion was the brainchild of Tom and Ruth Chapman (est. 1987) and was acquired by Apax Partners in 2017.There are 533 employees, 273 of whom have already been made redundant.
  • The Body Shop, the cosmetics-health-and-beauty ethical chain of stores has appointed administrators for the UK part of the business, which it only took over last November. In 2024, UK Body Shop had around 240 UK stores, including franchisees, and 2,000 employees.  Announcements by the Company on 20 Feb 2024 are that 100 stores are to close, some immediately, and 300 head office staff are to go. Aurelius, its new owner (German private equity), reckons that the UK business's poor trading and lack of working capital mean it is not currently viable. Administration will not affect the international Body Shop operations that comprise products sold in 3,000 stores and 9,000-10,000 staff. Body Shop was formed by Anita Roddick in 1976 as an ethically-sourced, cruelty-free retailer selling only natural products. After a UK floation in 1984, the Group at one time was owned by L'Oreal. Last November the UK arm was acquired by private-equity firm Aurelius (see also, Lloyds Pharmacy, below). The international operations (which have around 7,000 employees) was recently acquired by an as-yet undeclared London-based business, although the Dutch and French business remain part of the UK operations. The Times reported that Body Shop's new owner still owes 20 former staff £millions in severance payments under a long-term incentive programme. If true, it is unclear how administration will affect these payments - or will they simply become another group of unsecured creditors? The Times report (10 Feb 2024) said there had been no response from Aurelius. Attempts were made in Spring 2024 to launch a CVA, but these failed. 
  • Body Shop European Operations. Fashion Network suggests that the new owner of The BodyShop non-UK operations is probably Alma24, thought to be controlled by Friedrich Trautwein.  The German Body Shop operations have already (as at 20 Feb 2024) been put into liquidation,  affecting 66 stores (many of which have started to close) and 350 employees. The Belgian Body Shop stores are thought to be next in line for administration or liquidation. Body Shop France and Netherlands remain part of the UK operations. Body Shop France has 59 stores, seven franchises and 260 staff is also expected to go into administration. 
  • Lloydspharmacy, now renamed Diamond DCO Two Limited, is to be liquidated, owing creditors £293m. At one time (2020) Lloyds Pharmacy was the second largest pharmacy retailer in the country. It was acquired by German private equity firm, Aurelius¸ in 2021 and divested itself of much of its retail operations. According to the Chemist and Druggist, in 2020 Lloyds ran 1,054 community pharmacies. It closed its 237 Lloyds pharmacies operating as shops-within-shops in Sainsbury’s supermarkets in 2023: these in-store pharmacies had been acquired from Sainsbury’s in 2015. It started selling all Lloyds pharmacy branches and by November 2023 this programme had been completed, with the great majority now run by independents or by small multiples. However there is ongoing litigation against Loydspharmacy from former Sainsbury employees. It is unclear whether they will be able to pursue their case against the holding company or other subsidiaries. Other parts of the original retail Lloyds Pharmacy have either been sold to third parties or remain owned by other subsidiaries of the Aurelius Group, including Hello Healthcare and AAH.  LoydsDirect was acquired by Pharmacy2U. 
  • FarFetch, the major London-based online luxury fashion retail platform that operates globally, got into financial difficulties towards the end of 2023. It links up-market shoppers to thousands of retailers and suppliers, inlcuding Burberry and Gucci.  It was acquired by South Korean online business, Coupang, last year in a deal that wiped out its shareholders and many bondholders. Coupang put FarFetch through a pre-pack adminstration in January 2024, providing a £394.7m bridging loan to enable the business to continue. Creditors are owed £316m. Last summer, FarFetch was expecting to have £365m in cash by end-2023. Before its acquisition, FarFetch had 6,950 employees (a majority in London) as well as two department stores. Farfetch's creditors are understood to be seeking a judicial review of the acquisition in order to reduce the scale of their losses. It is understood that Jose Neves, the remaining FarFetch dirctor has now left the business. 
  • Orange Mountain Bikes and P Bairstow, Halifax-based mountain bike suppliers to customers and retailers, have both gone into administration. Orange Mountain Bikes started up in 1988. There are around 40 employees.
  • Bad News from Germany. The famous KaDeWe luxury fashion department store chain has applied to go into the German version of administration (protection from its creditors). It runs stores in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. There are 1,500 staff and a turnover of €728m (£622m).  The main issue it faces is very high rents for its premises in prestige locations. It is 49% owned by property giant, Signa (see below) which collapsed at the end of last year. Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof GmbH, a large German department chain (also part of Signa's holdings) also applied for administration earlier in January 2024.  
  • Tile Choice, a Midlands tile wholesaler/retailer with 18 retail stores, went into administration in January 2024. Nine stores have been acquired by Tile Giant with the others remaining closed. The business had 116 staff and £16m turnover in the last financial year, but profits had fallen after a boost during Covid. 
  • Box.co.uk, a well-respected online PC/technology retailer ('97% of customers said they would buy again from the company') based in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, was put into administration in mid-January 2024. Box was set up more than 25 years ago and was acquired by the Tactus Group for £100m in 2022, when turnover was £76m pa and there were 100+ employees. However Tactus is now suing the former directors for £18m.  Trading in the fourth quarter last year was weak and the business could no longer operate as a going concern. The business has closed and its website has been stripped of all product information.
  • British Corner Shop, primarily an online business serving the UK expatriate community with thousands of food brands (including  M&S) has gone into administration once again having been rescued previously in March 2023. 
  • Wine Retail, the company that acquired 28 stores when Oddbins (the wine merchant/off-licence) went into administration in 2020, is reported to have been placed into administration itself. Wine Retail was ultimately owned by European Food Brokers and The Drinks Business reports that both the stores and the online business no longer seem operational.  
  • Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton, originally opened in 2015 as the second site under the Keelham brand, went into administation in January 2024. In the past 18 months it suffered from the cost-of-living crisis, high interest rates on lborrowings, high energy prices and food inflationary pressures. Previously it was a very active and vibrant business incorporating many interesting new ideas. Two new directors joined the board in 2022  to turn the business around. Amongst othe initiatives, a pizzeria was opened and a wellness centre. The cafe, restaurant and store have been closed and the staff made redundant. Skipton is NW of Bradford and Leeds.
  • Stratford Market Village, London,  seems to have suffered a similar fate as Perry Barr. Sixty traders have found their units closed. Like Perry Barr, the market is leased to Stratford Market Properties, part of Groupe Geraud. 
  • Market Village, Perry Barr. Market Village, a market within Perry Barr One Stop Shopping Centre (north Birmingham), has been put into administration and has closed, leaving thirty retailers (mostly sole traders) unable to reclaim their stock or to continue trading. Market Village is owned ultimately by Groupe Geraud and it is believed that creditors have called in administrators. There is also a Market Village site in the Sutton Coldfield One Stop Centre. The problems of Market Village do not affect the One Stop brand or other centres operated by the One Stop group, though - of course - it is not a good look. Two weeks after filing the above report, things are no clearer. Other Groupe Geraud sites continue to operate.  The local MP and the West-Midlands Mayor have both been involved in supporting the dispossed retailers to reclaim theiw own property.   
  • Sook, the first administration of 2024, was a retail pop-up specialist in like London, Birmingham, Southampton, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds and Kent with one unit in Johannesburg. The Company was set up in 2019, designed to make space on high-streets available to brands. There were twelve stores in total. Sook suffered from cash-flow problems and could not find a company to help them navigate out of their current difficulties. It actually collapsed on 31 Dec 2023.  

Company Administrations in 2023

  • Stanley Gibbons, the stamp dealer and world-famous auctioneer went into administration on 22 December 2023. It had been established 168 years ago by Edward Stanley Gibbons, who started selling unusual stamps whilst working in his father's pharmacy store. With a turnover of £12.5 m (2022 Annual Report), Stanley Gibbons  has a shop on The Strand, London, but the business is dominated by stamp and card-token auctioneering. The probable cause of the insolvency was a strategic decision to use stamps to create retail investment portfolios through its Guernsey operations. The company was rescued by a pre-pack administration, ownership passing to a team T/A Strand Collectibles. Pheonix Asset Management, the new owner, intends 'to revitalise its fortunes by reconnecting with the nation's obsession with stamp collecting' (source: Cahill, H. [2024] 'New Owner Says Stanley Gibbons Will Now Stick to What it Does Best', The Times, 6 Jan, p. 46). The employees, assets and IP have been retained by the new business, which also owns Games Workshop. The 2022 Report shows there were 65 employees

  • Designer Childrenswear, an independent childrenswear seller based in Sunderland, went into administration and ceased trading towards the end of November 2023. There were thirty staff, who have all been made redundant. The business, which started with a market stall in Newcastle Quayside, sold 160 brands online and via a single store. Its turnover in 2022-3 was £5.3m. However profits fell in its final trading year and delays in revamping its website meant it was unable to trade during the Black-Friday period in 2022, possibly losing £1m of potential sales. Cashflow problems relating to creditors' liabilities of around £1.5m were the immediate cause of the business closing. 

  • Signa is not yet a well-known company here in the UK. It is the major shareholder in many European retail businesses, including luxury UK department-store Selfridges. In 2022, together with Thai-owned Central Group, Signa acquired Selfridges from the Weston Family in a £4bn deal. Signa is now a distressed business, ultimately owned by Austrian billionaire Rene Benko and comprising more than 1,000 different entities, many of the largest being offshore. The two main Signa businesses are Signa Development and Signa Prime. The Financial Times calcuated the amount they owe to be more than €13bn, made up of loans, company bonds, trade creditors and hybrid capital (a combination of equity and debt). Signa is a major owner of the major German department-store groups, Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof GmbH and Berlin's  KaDeWe, the Swiss luxury store group, Globus, and the German sports group, Sportscheck (which is in the process of being acquired by Frasers, but meanwhile supported by Signa, which now seems unlikely). In Ireland it controls Brown Thomas (Dublin and Cork) and Arnotts (Dublin) through its ownership of Selfridges. A court in Austria has declared Signa to be insolvent. The Company is going through a specialist form of administration termed 'self administration', under which the business itself expects to reduce its indebtedness to make it solvent again without the use of external administrators. Its rescue plan will be put to creditors in the next 90 days. Meanwhile its co-shareholders will be acting to reduce any downdraught from Signa as it sells assets to restore solvency. The Central Group have already ousted Signa from Selfridges by converting a loan into equity, giving them majority control over the UK operation and the Irish department stores. Signa's problems are not expected to affect the performance of Selfridges, Brown Thomas or Arnotts, which all continue to trade as before. 

  • Totsbots, the small online retailer of nappies and children's products, went into administration in November. All 47 employees have been made redundant. The business was sold back to its founders earlier in the year by owners Frugi  Organic Childswear, but unffortunately it has now failed. 

  • Wilko Update - November. Just to prove all the doubters wrong (including us) The Range will open its first Wilko stores at the beginning of December 2023, starting with the Plymouth Armada Shopping Centre, the Guildhall SC in Exeter, and a few days later in Luton's Arndale Centre. Poundland has opened 56 of the 71 Wilco stores taken over Wilco's administration, employed 700 former Wilco staff, but has contractual problems with the remaining stores over concrete. B&M expects to convert the 51 Wilco stores it took over to its own brand over the next 12 months. 

  • Wiggle, the multi-sports online retailer, went into administration towards the end of October 2023 owing its unsecured suppliers £26.7m. Its sister brand, Chain Reaction, is also included in the in administration. The Portsmouth-based European online retailer, selling cycle, run, swim and outdoor equipment and apparel has suffered a fall in trade as well as liquidity problems for several months. The company is ultimately owned by InternetStores, part of SIGNA Sports United based in Germany, which has suffered liquidity problems following the downturn in demand for cycle and cycle products. Wiggle continues to trade. There are around 670 employees of whom 105 have been made redundant. Probikeshop, a French online cycle business owned by Signa has also gone into administration. Wiggle and Chain Reaction was acquired for c.£10m by Frasers in early March 2024.

  • Victoria Plumb, a bathroom specialist, has passed through pre-pack administration before being acquired by AHK Designs at the end of September. AHK also owns Beds.co.uk and Cox & Cox, the furniture retailer. Endless, the previous owner of Victoria Plumb, had bought the retailer in 2019, but wanted to auction it off as its results were weak following Covid restrictions, supply chain problems and gathering inflation. It is understood that all 300 employees will transfer to the new owner. 

  • Thought Clothing, a small apparel company with £2.1m in net assets, went into administration in September 2023. It sells online, via JLP and independent stores. Around 25 non-trading staff have been made redundant.

  • People Tree UK, the UK arm of athe ethical fashion brand, is to go into liquidation owing suppliers in India and customers a total of £8.5m. Three suppliers are owed £1.6m and staff are believed to have last been paid in June 2023. People Tree established itself as a leading business, campaigning for better treatment of textile and garment workers and using organic products. It expects to continue trading in continental Europe and Japan and hopes to sell People tree merchandise into the UK using its website.  

  • Wilko, the large Worksop-based hardware-&-general merchandise retailer with 408 outlets (formerly 'Wilkinson's Hardware Stores') went into administration on 10 August 2023. In terms of the numbers of staff and stores, this is the largest retail failure since Woolworths in 2008. There were several possible rescuers, the most serious of whcih was possibly the owner of HMV, but these all proved fruitless. However  B&M's acquisition of 52 Wilko stores, Poundland's acquisition of 71 stores and The Range's purchase of Wilko's IP and online marketplace will go ahead.  Wilko made a profit of £3.2m in 2021, but lost £36m in 2022. It owed about £70m to suppliers and needed at least this amount to continue trading. The Company borrowed £40m from Hilco (owner of Homebase) in early 2023. Its pension fund (it was reported on 21 Sept 2023) has a gap of £50m. The Company's failure means that creditors are now owed as much as £625m. Wilko had been badly affected by covid and, as a major high-street player, the fact that shoppers have not returned to high streets in the numbers they once did has adversely affected its sales. Renewed competition from other low-cost sellers such as B&M, Poundland, The Range and Home Bargains (often based in retail parks) meant further problems for Wilko. The Company had 408 stores before administration, 12,000 staff and a turnover of around £1.2bn. The business started in Leicester in 1930. Descendants of the original founders ran the Company until administration.

  • August 2023. The previous seven months have seen lots of problems in the retail sector, but particularly in areas which looked to have high demand and plenty of well-heeled customers - prestige fashion and sports cycling. We have loaded some of the most significant problem companies here, reflecting issues since Jan 2023.  

    Fashion. Peter Petrov, supplier of prestige womenswear, has entered administration. Sales are made via its own website and 60 store-based retailers. A London Fashion Week’s favourite, the Julian Macdonald company, has gone into liquidation, a result of covid plus the collapse of its major client, Debenhams. The Christopher Kane Label (launched 2006) has gone into pre-pack administration, being bought back by Christopher Kane and his sister. The Vampire’s Wife, merchandise priced at £595 (Net-a-Porter) and £1,500 (Selfridges), suffered a recent winding-up petition from the tax authorities. However they are friends again with news that The Vampire’s Wife is to pay HMRC the £1/3m that it owes. 

    Cycling.  Sports Bikes. Planet X Limited, the Rotherham-based cycle retailer of gravel and mountain bikes, has been sold as a pre-pack to Winlong Garments. All 33 employees are to transfer to the new owner, which is ultimately part of the portfolio of Baaj Capital (also includes Blue Inc, Officers Club, Sizedwell.com, Reem Clothing, etc). The administration accounts showed stock with a net book value of >£3m. The problems of Moore Large, a major UK cycle distributor, which collapsed early in 2023 have already been noted in Who’s Gone Bust? The success of cycling during Covid led to over-ordering by cycle businesses and, as Covid wound down (reducing demand for cycles) these orders arrived in the UK, pushing down retail prices for cyclists and creating losses where a year or so before the story was only about surging profits and sales. Moore Large had a stock of 35,000 cycles, owed creditors £20m and had assets nominally of £35m. 2Pure, another cycle distributor fell into the same trap as Moore Large. It operated in activity sports, cycling, running and other outdoor pursuits and had around 50 staff.  Other victims of the changes in cycle purchasing and accessories include Milltag, Velovixen and Presca.

    Micromobility. Mate UK, a Danish supplier of ebikes, put its UK operation into liquidation in June 2023. In 2022, the company was prosecuted for selling an ebicycle powered by 750W (which could achieve speeds of 40 mph, hence needed registration as a motor bike and riders needed a licence). Its cycles can still be purchased from other cycle retailers or online. The Van Moof Group, a major Dutch ebike retailer with 190,000 ebikes sold globally was put into liquidation/bankruptcy by a Dutch Court in July 2023. Its UK facilities, including repair, are to be closed.

  • Hotter Shoes, the footwear retailer, has been acquired by WoolOvers, a knitwear firm owned by Verdane (a European investment firm). 'Hotter Shoes' is the trading name of Beaconsfield Footwear Ltd, which went into pre-pack administration in mid-July before being purchased by WoolOvers. Hotter Shoes was formerly owned by Unbound, a group focusing on the 55+ years demographic. Unbound itself was looking to raise £2m to avoid going into administration. The sale of Hotter Shoes has prevented this. Verdane had tried to acquire Hotter Shoes earlier in 2023, but lost out on price to a bid that was never consumated. Hotter Shoes has 421 staff and trades from 17 stores and 10 concessions: all these will transfer to the new owner..In 2020, Hotter Shoes went through a CVA, which resulted in the permanent closure of 46 stores.   

  • UK Flooring Direct, the online floor-covering retailer, went into administration in early July 2023. This Coventry-based business was acquired via pre-pack administration by Keswick Flooring, a subsidiary of Nestware Holdings, which owns UK retailer Carpetright. All 85 Flooring-Direct staff will continue with the new owner which wants to develop its ebusiness further. 

  • Ideal World, a transaction-based shopping channel based in Peterborough, went into administration early in July 2023. The Company's owners blamed Covid for creating a change in consumer behaviours that led to falling sales at Ideal World. Most of its 275 employees have been made redundant. The business's assets, goodwill and IP have been acquired by Shop TJC Limited, an Indian-owned subsidiary of Vaibhav Global, which is to re-start transmission, but from London. Ideal World was started in 1980 as mail-order company, Wrightway Marketing, using press advertisements and a presence at exhibitions. As a TV channel, operating eventually on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), online and satellite, it started in 2000. Last year it sold its Craft Arm to Hochanda Global (owner of the Craft Store). 

  • Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian Bakery and coffee shop chain, went into administration again in June 2023. It previously went into administration in 2020. Its eleven sites in London have closed, except St Pancras, which is operated by a separate comany. The firm was adversely impacted by Covid-19 and has struggled in a competitive market at a time when high streets have not regained the footfall they had in 2019. .The UK operations have been run by Brunchco since 2020. Le Pain Quotidien had 26 sites in April 2020, but closed eleven when the business was transferred to Brunchco. The U.S. operations went into Chapter 11 and closed all their stores, although some have now reopened. The number of job losses from the Company's failure is 250. 

  • Wilkies, an Edinburgh-based retailer of womenswear and mendswear, went into administration at the end of June 2023. The business dates back to 1898 and has eleven stores in Scortland. Sales have not fully recovered after the end of Covid-19 and the company's performance has been hit by higher energy costs and increased employee wages. The Group's CEO has criticised Scotland's antiquated business rates system which, apparently, is even worse than England's. Having failed to find a buyer, Wilkies was put into administration. Six stores have been sold to a new company, Wilkies Trading, which will continue to operate as 'Wilkies'. The five remaining stores are redundant and four have closed. The fifth store is to stay open to sell off the remaining stock. Thirty employees have been made redundant. 

  • Iceland in Ireland. Iceland's Republic-of-Ireland stores were acquired in March 2023 by Metron Stores Ltd, a local company. Many of the chain's stores were closed in mid-June and an Examiner has been appointed to run the Company (similar to UK Administration). In Ireland, all the story is about employees unable to work and where is their redundancy pay? In the UK the story is 'Yet another retail chain bites the dust'. The issue seems to be that the Company has imported Iceland frozen food from the UK without all the usual certification etc that the Irish and the EU insisted on in all those meetings about the NI Protocol. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) announced in June that all Iceland (animal-based) frozen foods bought from March 2023 were potentially contaminated ('though we have no evidence yet.......') and thus unfit for human consumption. This is all, of course, exactly the same food that we all eat in the UK and Northern Ireland. How come we are still alive? Anyway, the Company owners had the freezer units containing this banned frozen food all switched off. The de-frosted goods are only now being collected and dumpted. We can all understand the concerns of workers who have been made redundant. The issue is about crisis management in both the FSAI and Metron Stores, treating perfectly good food as corrupted, and effectively bringing a Company that has 27 stores and 350 employees to its knees. But perhaps you are right and the story is really all about the failings of modern capitalism. In any event there is a strange and sorry story underlying all this.  

  • Scotch and Soda, a Dutch fashion retailer with four UK shops, went bankrupt (under Dutch law) in early 2023 and was acquired by Bluestar Alliance in March. It is to close all of its UK branches over summer. The Company lost much of its business during the covid lockdowns, its Dutch operations being severely hit by the final lockdown in the Netherlands.  

  • Hunters, an up-market brand of wellingtons and bad-weather related products, has closed its retail store and entered administration to be acquired by US-owned Authentic Brands Group. Their products, preferably worn with waxed jackets, have been prestige products for several decades. Hunter's reported problems that led to administration include: quality problems since production was moved to China; Covid, which closed stores selling the product; and surprisingly good weather, which of course also affected Joules' clothing sales. It can be argued, also, that consumer tastes in bad-weather footwear have become more idiosyncratic - people now wear different brands and different footwear compared to the 1980s. And yes, I too purchased a pair of Hunters when we lived in a village where roads became lakes.in winter.    

  • Circularity Scotland, the Company handling the Scottish Admiistration's Deposit Return Scheme, went into administration in mid-June. Information about the Scottish DRS can be found here on our website dealing with THE ETHICAL SHOPPER. The Scottish scheme, which was arguably over-ambitious, has been delayed several times. It was expected to start in Spring 2023, but has been been put off until 2025, but on a much-attenuated basis. There were 60 employees. 

  • Tuffnells, the Sheffield-based distributor, is not a retailer but an important element in how merchandise gets from the maker to the shopper. It went into administration early in June 2023. The Company operated from 33 depots in the UK and 70 others across the world. Most of its employees (2,200) are being made redundant, 500 third-party staff have lost their jobs and only 128 employees are being retained. Tuffnells' operations are being closed down, with the administrators looking for other business that are prepared to acquire Teffnells as an enterprise or its significant parts.  

  • The Meatless Farm Company, set up in 2016 to provide plant-based meat substitutes, has announced that it is to appoint administrators and faces 'millions' in losses. The latest accounts (2021) show a loss of almost £24m on sales of £12m. All employees have been made redundant, including senior staff. There were around 100 staff. As well the problems caused by Covid, the supermarket price war and the cost-of-living crisis demand for plant-based foods has plummeted. The Company has now (21 June 2023) been taken over by VFC Foods, best known for its 'Vegan Fried Chick*n' products.  

  • MyFresh, a supplier of fresh vegetables to the trade, formerly owned by Wm Jackson, went into administration in early June 2023. Tuber Group bought the business in September last year from Jacksons. Jacksons had created MyFresh from two of its subsidiaries, Hazeldene and Parripack. Between 1 June 2022 and 28 February 2023 the company made an operating loss of £3.15m on a turnover of around £12m. The company was declared insolvent in April and the administrators have until mid-June to find new buyers. 

  • Fatherson Bakery, the Alcester (Warwickshire)- based baker, has gone into voluntary liquidation (May 2023) announced on Facebook. There are 100 employees. Factors cited by the company included the rise in energy costs and distribution costs plus the non-payment of invoices by one of its major retail customers. 

  • Party Pieces Holdings, primarily an online retailer set up by Carole and Michael Middleton, lost out heavily during Covid (no parties) with revenues falling from £4.5m to £3.2m. It went into administration and was acquired by Teddy Tastic Bear Company Limited in June 2023. The Company continues to trade and has 12 employees. There are large amounts owing to creditors and HMRC. The Middletons have connections to the Royal family.  

  • Internet Fusion Group, a global ecommerce retailer focusing on action sports, has been acquired out of administration by BrandAlley, a strongly-performing ecommerce fashion group. In common with other recent acquisitions, BrandAlley have bought the IP and brands of Internet Fusion Group, Surfdome (surfing, skiing, skating), Country Attire, Derby House, Rideaway (equestion activities) as well as the logistics and customer services division (with 125 staff). BrandAlley is not buying the stock and has declared it will not sell from IFG's existing domains. One hundred IFS staff have been made redundant.

  • Planet Organic, an ethical sustainable supermarket group with more than twelve stores, went into administration at the end of April 2023. Businesses that had expressed interest in acquiring Planet Organic included Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Holland and Barrett. Planet Organic was eventually acquired by Bioren, which itself is part-owned by the founders of Planet Organic. According to Retail Gazette, the company owed £12.5m to creditors when it went into administration. Before administration, Planet Organic had 360 staff. Four stores will close leaving the business with ten stores and 265 employees. The Company was founded in 2004, but post-Covid sales had fallen below the levels achieved in the 2020-22 period. Bioren intends to revitalise the business, adopting a new strategic plan but re-emphasising the Company's core values.

  • News From Germany. Gerry Weber Retail has announced its intention of filing for insolvency under German Company legislation, 'The Act for the Stabilisation and Restructuring Framework for Enterprises' or StaRUG. This does not affect the international divisions of Gerry Weber, its ecommerce operations or wholesale arm. The focus of the legal proceedings is to enable the revamp and re-vitalisation of its German physical store operations (ie its shops network - known in Germany as 'stationery stores'). The company capital of Gerry Weber Retail GmbH would be reduced to zero and the firm de-listed. The preliminary legal processes will last for not more than three months. It is hoped that a new store network in Germany will be created more suited to changing tastes and fashions. Presumably these ideas will be transported to G Weber's foreign operations as well, but there is no word about if, or when, this will occur. Gerry Weber sells its fashion products into 54 countries and employs 2,100 staff. Three years ago Gerry Weber exited from previous German insolvency proceedings. In 2019 the Company closed it 26 UK stores, though it continues to supply the UK market via third-party stores and ecommerce. 

  • David's Bridal, the UK arm of an US$1.3bn American bridalwear chain, has gone into admininstration following the collapse of its US owner with 9000 redundancies planned in North America. There are four keynote David's Bridal stores in the UK. The business also sells via ecommerce, but last made a profit in 2018. There are 150 employees in the UK. It is understood that the Company will continue to trade. The U.S. Company went into the American version of administration in 2018, but emerged from this process the following year. David's bridal has suffered similar problems as clothing and fashion throughout Europe. The UK stores all launched 'closing down' sales in June 2023. 

  • Just Hype, a Leicester-based, youth fashion ecommerce retailer trading as Hype, went into administration in April 2023. It sold B2C as well as through other retail firms. Just Hype suffered from the fall in sales post-covid that has affected most online retailers plus the heavy impact of supply-chain shortages and high inflation in 2022-3. The business has been acquired by Sarjon Dulai's Edgbaston-based Lux360 and JHB2C, who also took over the Hype-associated business, Toatee. The 87 staff have been retained.   

  • Book Depository,  the online stockist/retailer of probably the widest range of English-language second-hand books in the world, was closed down towards the end of April 2023. The Company was set up in 2004 and acquired by Amazon in 2011. Amazon of course over-expanded during the covid outbreak and the closure of Book Depository came at a time when it was massively reducing staff headcount and warehousing. 

  • ProBikeKit (PBK), the cycle specialist founded in the 1990s, is to close. It is part of the Lifestyle OnDemand Division of THG, which acquired the PBK in 2013. PBK sells cycling accessories, clothing and components B2B and B2C in 50 countries. THG is closing/slimming its OnDemand portfolio as part of rationalising the business, whose share price has fallen recently fallowing news of 2022 losses of £550m. The PBK closure comes on top of the closure of other Cycling retailers, including Moore Large & Co, Stanton Bikes and the failure of two cycle clothing microbusinesses. THG was formerly 'The Hut Group', a vertically-integrated ecommerce business selling own-brand and third-party cosmetics, dietary supplements, luxury goods, and licensed and personalised products online. 

  • Farmison & Co, Ripon-based online premium meat retailer and wholesaler, went into administration in April after failing to raise money to permit the continuance of the business. The majority of its 75 employees were made redundant. However, a Yorkshire consortium led by Andy Clarke (former CEO of ASDA) with Gareth Whittle, Christian Barton and Kieron Barton are to acquire Farmisons and expect to recommence operations by May.

  • Banks Musicroom, York was originally set up in 1756 by Thomas Haxby in Blake Street - making it one of the earliest if not the earliest continuously-operated retail store in Britain. It closed at the end of March. The company Musicroom, which owned the shop, continues to operate successfully with stores in London's Denmark Street and elsewhere in the country and is of course not in any trouble, but I felt we should acknowledge the passing of one of the country's greats. Banks Musicroom sold musical instruments, sheet music and vinyl records.

  • Vashi, the bespoke up-market jeweller funded by key City investors. went into administration early in April. There were four stores and around 200 employees. The business had been seeking additional funding of £75m, but failed in the face of a winding-up petition from Canary Wharf Group, its landlords. In the latter years of the 2010s Vashi claimed to one of the fastest-growing private companies and its MD was named as the winner for London & SouthEast of the 'EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021'. Vashi was acquired by the Hearts of London Group in May 2023, the parent company of Queensmith, which is the largest UK producer of lab-grown diamonds. 

  • Cath Kidston, the apparel retailer, was put into administration in late March 2023 by its private-equity owners Hilco Capital. Hilco had only bought the business in 2022. Cath Kidston went bust in 2020 with 60 UK stores (200 globally), most of which were closed. The IP, brand and domain names of Cath Kidston have been bought by Next via a pre-pack for £8.5m. The four remaining stores and their support staff will close within three months when existing stock has been sold. Currently Cath Kidston has 125 staff. In the last 12 months, Next has purchased the IP of struggling ecommerce retailer Made.com and premium-clothing store Joules (both out of administration) as well as running the UK businesses of apparel retailers Gap and Victoria's Secret. 

  • Kettle Interiors, the Corby-based furniture supplier and B2C retailer, went into administration in March 2023. The 165+ employees have been made redundant. Although the firm had a large boost in sales during the pandemic, the post-covid world hit business profits through high shipping costs and uncertain deliveries creating additional financial problems. The firm was unable to raise additinal capital or turnround the business. 

  • Maker&Son Ops, manufacturer and retailer of luxury furniture, went through a process of liquidation in March. The travails of the original Maker&Son, acquired by Inc&Co in 2022, have been the subject of much press comment. 

  • Connect Distribution Services, the online distributor of spare parts, accessories and consumables (mainly for DIY appliances), went into administration in 2023. The Birmingham-based firm was set up as a wholesaler 50 years ago. It trades B2C and B2B through eSpares, BuySpares, 4OurHouse, and the Connect Trade Portal. The company's IP, fixed assets, stock and contracts have been acquired by Screwfix (part of Kingfisher Group) for more than £3m. The business's 400 employees will transfer to the new owners.

  • Antonine Shopping Centre in Cumbernauld went into administration following the collapse of its owner. The Centre is reported to have come under creditor pressure following weak trading in the past six months. Retail buinesses at the Centre continue to trade as normal.

  • Moore Large & Co, the Derby-based distributor of cycle brands including Tern Bicycles, Emelle, Forme Bikes, ETC, and Lake cycling shoes is going through administration. All 130 staff, except for accounts and administration, have been made redundant. Moore Large has ceased trading and ihas been wound down. During the covid period, sales of big-ticket bikes and equipment were high, but in 2022 and early 2023 the Company suffered a steep fall in sales (around 20%-25%). A MBO early in 2022 took place when the prospects for cycling and the company looked bright. Moore Large started in 1947, but by the date it collapsed it owed creditors more than £20m. .

  • Lavish Alice, the trading name of Fast Fashions Collection International, has gone through an administration process (after being threatended by HMRC with a winding-up order in December 2022) that finally led to the Lavish Alice wholesale arm being put into administration with debts of up to £4m. A small number of staff mainly operating concessions in Selfridges were made redundant.  Lavish Alice is a celebrity-oriented cutting-edge fashion business. The Company in future wil trade B2C online. The wholesale arm dealt with companies like Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdales, Selfridges and Saks Fifth Avenue. It was sold pre-pack to its directors. As an event brand, the company suffered significant losses during the pandemic and, in spite of a subsequent large increase in sales, the business was unable to pay its creditors on time and no likelihood of doing so in the future. Lavish Alice was set up in 2011. 

  • Thomson Hayes Retail Display, a Leicester-based retail display company, went into administration and ceased trading at the end of February 2023. Its focus was department stores and cosmetics. Its clients included Dior and Lancome. Covid meant that demand for retail displays fell. The company's attempts aftr Covid to fulfil its existing contracts were beset by supply issues and the onset of inflation in 2022.  

  • Morton's Rolls, a Glasgow-based Scottish bakery with £12m sales employing 250 staff and famous for its crispy rolls, ceased trading on 3 March 2023 and went into administration. The Company's problems were ascribed to the Covid pandemic, the large rise in energy prices and contractual obligations to large supermarkets, which led to the business trading unprofitably for many months. The business was acquired by the PVL consortium comprising local Glasdow business people, which re-hired 110 staff and re-started production of core lines in late March. The re-hired staff are working with better conditions than before and the target market is now convenience stores, cafes and independents rather than supermarkets. 

  • Kookai France Update. Kookai, the striking French teenage and young female fashion chain, withdrew from the UK market in 2013 because it was unable to run its British stores profitably and had experienced a brush with administration in 2006, when it employed 600 people in the UK. Its global revenues in 2013 were €94m. In February 2023, Kookai was placed into the French equivalent of administration. The business now has 121 stores plus online e-commerce and sales of €30m. The company, now owned by Magi (its Australian franchisee), has blamed the economic problems of the European ready-to-wear sector, the effects of Covid and the banks' unwillingess to support Kookai to upgrade its stores for its entering administration. Its current owners hope to re-launch the business. 

  • Tile Giant was put into administration in January 2023 to protect the business. Tile Giant is an 80-store wholesale and retail specialist in ceramic tiles, tools, accessories and underfloor heating products. It was originally owned by Travis Perkins until 2020, when it was sold to Leeds-based investment group, Coverings.  It was acquired in 2023 by Matt Williams, former Chief Executive of Topps Tiles. Of the original 80 stores, 13 are to close.Two hundred and fifty-five employees have been transferred to a new company formed to run the surviving outlets, but 43 to a separate business that will manage the 13 closing stores. Tile Giant faced competitive pressures as well as pressure from suppliers and landlords regarding arrears and non-payment, decided that administration was the best means of protecting the company's future.  

  • Tea 2, a tea specialist now owned by Unilever, has closed its UK stores and UK website and all but one of those in North America to concentrate on its Southern Hemisphere operations, particularly Australia and New Zealand. The business is to be controlled from Australia, where Tea 2 started. 

  • M&Co, the Scotland-based clothing chain that went into administration towards the end of 2022, has been sold to AK Retail Holdings, the owner of Yours Clothing, BadRhino, Long Tall Sally, and Bump It Up Maternity. AK Retail Holdings, which owns Yours Clothing, has acquired only the IP and brand, thus leaving the 170 stores and 1,910 employees without an obvious future. Although some closed a short time after the company entered administration, most M&Co stores closed early in 2023, the employees being made redundant. M&Co is understood to have owed £40.6m to unsecured creditors, but the sale of assets is likely to provide less than 1% of repayment against each debt.   

  • Snowdrop Independent Living, a mobility equipment supplier based in Haverfordwest, went into administration at the end of January. There are seven showrooms which have closed and all staff have been made redundant apart from a number handling the business's closure. The business started two decades ago. 

  • Paperchase, the upmarket stationery and gifts retailer, went into administration at the end of January 2023. Aspen Phoenix NewCo (the firm's actual business name) had been seeking new financial backers since late 2022. Paperchase appointed a firm of administrators in 17 Jan 2023 to stand by - as a contingency - in case they were needed. Tesco acquired the brands, logo and Paperchase, following a pre-pack administration. Paperchase's online website closed on 17 February and the physical stores are to close. Paperchase itself was established in 1968 by two art students. It was later acquired by Borders (remember them?) in 2004. A management buy-out in 2010 made it independent again. It successfully expanded across GB and many other countries, but went into administration in January 2021, following growing losses accentuated by Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns and the subsequent reduction in shopper footfall in town centres compared to 2019. It was 'saved' in 2022 when Steve Curtis bought Paperchase via a pre-pack that resulted in the closure of 37 stores and redundancy for 500 staff. In January 2023 there were 106 UK stores and 820 employees. 

  • Traidcraft PLC, a FairTrade Company that is the trading arm of the Traidcraft Foundation, is going into administration. There was a significant loss of sales caused by covid19, with sales falling from £8.1m in 2019 to £5.4m in 2020 (-33.3%). In 2022, sales in the autumn quarter were very weak, while the postal stikes deterred customers from buying online or from catalogues. Traidcraft popularised the idea of Fairtrade and helped set up the FairTrade scheme in supermarkets. Traidcraft was first set up in 1979, with a hand-drawn catalogue primarily selling just products from Banladesh. It then added fairtrade tea, coffee, chocolate, other food products, clothing and stationery. An associate company,TransformTrade, is not affected by the collaspse of Traidcraft (Source; Church Times, 24 Jan 2023). 

  • Middletons, the mobility retailer with around 17 stores and an online presence, went into administration in January 2023 and has ceased trading. It was badly hit by the pandemic and subsequent supply-chain problems. Sales have dropped as a result of high inflation and cost-of-living concerns. Established in 2013, the Company was expanding very rapidly pre-pandemic and was backed by the Development Bank of Wales and Bristol's Wealth Club. Middletons sold mobility scooters, recliner chairs, adjustable beds and other mobility products. Stores are mostly located in the Midlands, SW and Wales. 

  • Velovixen, supplier of women's cyclewear, has gone into liquidation after a poor Christmas and declining post-Covid sales. 

  • Milltag a british cyclewear company known for its bright designs has gone in voluntary insolvency.  

  • Snug, the sofa-in-the-box firm (=modular and re-configurable furniture), went into administration early in 2023 and has been acquired by ScS. It has one store in Leeds, which remains open, but is mainly sold online with T/O around £20m in 2022. SCS has purchased Snug's IP, brand, domain names and stock.  No redundancies are expected.

  • Bateman Opticians, high-street opticians with four practices in Wales, went into administration in January 2023, but has been taken over pre-pack by Julian Davies Opticians

  • Shaws The Drapers, the well-known firm selling soft furnishings, craft equipment and wool (28 branches in England and Wales), went into voluntary liquidation at the begining of 2023. All branches had been selling off stock at heavily-reduced prices before Christmas to empty the shelves. The owner, Mr Philip Shaw, said that the business was no longer viable and would close. The Company's first shop was opened in 1916 in Cardiff. It is understood that staff wages and holiday have been paid until Christmas: further payments will be handed by the Redundancy Payments Service. There were 150 staff. 

  • In-Time, the chain of watch and jewellery repair kiosks, went into administration at the start of 2023. Its headquarters were in Southport and it once ran 50 kiosks or stores-within-stores trading as In-Time. Thirty-five kiosks were bought pre-pack by The Timpson Group, the shoe and heel-bar repair chain, with 110 employees early in January 2023. The Administrators reported that declining In-Time sales (linked to the closure of many department stores from which In-Time kiosks operated) and higher import and material costs had reduced cashflow and its ability to trade. Timpsons also own Johnsons and Jeeves (Dry Cleaners), Snappy Snaps, iSnaps and Max Spielmann, and the Watch Workshop.

  • Update on Made.com. Its Touva subsidiary, a platform for 650 independent brands and boutiques, has been sold by Next (which bought the Made.com brands and IP in 2022) to commerce tech firm Re:store.

Company Administrations in 2022

  • Atterley.com, an Edinburgh-based online third-party services for a range of independent fashion companies via a global marketplace went into administration in December 2022 and has ceased trading. Previously it went into administration in 2016, before being rescued by a local entrepreneur.  

  • M&Co, the Scottish clothing retailer formerly called 'Mackays', went into administration for the second time in December 2022. It had restructured in 2020 using pre-pack administration, closing 47 stores. The company continues to trade, although it has closed its Droitwich store, until a buyer can be found. There are currently more than 170 stores and 2,000 employees. Most of the stores have 'Closing Down' notices on their windows, but no decisions have yet been taken.

  • Shuropody, the shoe and podiatry retailer with 39 stores, went into administration in December 2022, but was immediately purchased by part of Baaj Capital on a pre-pack basis. The stores continue to trade and no redundancies have been announced. There are 260 staff. Administrators commented about an otherwise serious business being unable to pay off the losses caused in the covid period. Baaj Capital is also involved the the Officers Club, Blue Inc, Lissom Shoes, Edge Accessories and several other B2C and B2B groups. 

  • Poundstretcher, the discount store, exited its CVA in October 2022, having paid around 12p in the £pound to its creditors (total amount owing around £100m). All suppliers were paid. The other creditors were HMRC and 250 shop landlords.  

  • Clever-Company, makers of inflatable hot tubs, has gone into administration in what may seem to be a sign of the times. Sales of hot tubs boomed during the pandemic, but subsequently weakened. The exorbitant price of heating hot tubs in 2022 following electricity price hikes was probably the final blow. 

  • Elite Sports Group, which provides merchandise, retail services and runs the sports shops of many football clubs, went into administration in November 2022. Its brands include Hummel, Maybe, Lift and Turnstile. It is the supplier of Hummel sports clothing to many UK clubs for their first teams, youth teams, women's teams and others. Hummel, a Danish company is not affected by Elite's failure. The clubs it services include Southampton, Milwall, Coventry, Newport County, Northampton Town, Oldham and a number of Clubs in other European countries. Coventry and Northampton Town have had to close their fan shops, whilst Southampton has ended its agreement with Elite. It is unlikely that the sports shops for supporters will close permanently. The Milwall store has reopened, although the Club's finances have taken a six-figure hit from Elite's failure. More important is the possibility that merchandise orders made online for Christmas via Elite will not be fulfilled. Perhaps less well known is the work done by Elite to train and coach 15,000 children per week for Football, Rugby, Cricket and multi-sports. What will happen to this initiative? 

  • Gieves & Hawkes (Update), tailors to the aristocracy, got into difficulties two years ago when its owner, Hong-Kong based Trinity, went bust in 2021. This well-known brand was also adversely affected by covid as a result of reduced spending on clothing, working-from-home meaning potential Gieves-&-Hawkes customers no longer needed suits as long as their old red cords and woolly jumpers could last out. The Company has been acquired by Frasers (formerly Sports Direct and House of Fraser). The Company has held Royal Warrants since 1809 and dressed Admiral Ld Nelson as well as Georges V and VI, the present King, William and Harry. Gieves-&-Hawkes' five stores are part of the deal, including 1, Savile Row.

  • Stanton Bikes, the manufacturer and retailer of expensive mountain bikes, went into administration following a creditor's petition to the high court in November. The company operates out of Tansley, Derbyshire. Stanton Bikes has an international reputation for designing, making and retailing its mountain bikes. Stanton Bikes also provides components for a wide range of users. It continues to trade until a buyer can be found. 

  • AMT, the coffee specialist operating mainly from train and bus stations, went into administration in November 2022. During the pandemic, the government's Work From Home guidance meant that AMT sales fell 63% in 2020 to £7.6m ($8.7m) and the company lost £3.2m ($3.7m) as a result.The business has been bought by SSP Group. SSP Group is taking on 25 coffee shops, which continue to trade, but 18 sites have closed with the loss of 100 jobs. The head office is also to close. AMT was started by three McCallum-Toppin brothers in 1993, selling real espresso-based coffee, after they left what is now Oxford Brookes University

  • Glasgow's Forge Market Village went into administration in November 2022. The Forge consists of more than 35 independent retailers - currently unable to trade - at the Parkhead Centre. The landlord is understood to have gone into liquidation. Store owners have been asked to clear their units. immediately, although several are attempting to continue trading. 

  • Sapphire, the owners of East Kilbride Shopping Centre, Scotland's largest indoor centre with 1.2m square feet of space, went into administration in November. There are 150 stores, plus restaurants, a cinema and an ice rink. The Centre - like the rest of retailing - has been hit by store closures and the impact of covid on footfall. East Kilbride Centre is continuing to trade as usual. The administrators are seeking new owners for the Centre. 

  • Joules, the upmarket clothing retailer that started in 1989 selling at country fairs, went into administration in November 2022. There were 132 stores and 1,700 employees. But Joules owed suppliers, landlords and HMRC more than £113m. Earlier in May it had announced that it was having difficulty both in sourcing supplies and in selling clothes at the RRP. It announced a turnround plan, but the worsening state of the UK economy meant that this did not achieve its objectives. The mild autumn weather also reduced its sales of winterwear and wellingtons. The company has been seeking new capital investment for some months, but failed to raise it. Joules considered a CVA, but instead went through the route of administration in the hope of saving the company. The multiple fashion retailer, Next, then paid £34m to buy the company plus £7m for the Market Harborough headquarters. Next now owns 74% of the business with original founder, Tom Joule, owning 26%. Twenty-nine stores have already been closed, including Cheltenham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Peterborough and Southwold. The Garden Trading Company, a Joules' subsiduary dealing in garden and household products, has now moved into the orbit of TIM Group Holdings, a private equity company, based near Wetherby, although this does not seem to be known to its website. Update: in May 2023, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) started an investigation in one of the Big Four Accountancy firms relating to their work for the 2021 Joules results. 

  • Garth Bakery Limited and Sarah Snacks, Abercynon (north of Pontyprydd), established in 1983 went into administration in November. The company made bread and pastries. There are 98 staff and 22 delivery vehicles. The staff were made redundant two days later. Administrators are currently trying to sell the assets of the business.

  • Made.com, the furniture and household retailer focusing on slightly-retro design, finally went into administration on 8 November 2022, after closing its books to new orders since October. 12,000 customer orders were unfulfiled at the time of administration, although Administrators, PwC, announced that 4,500 orders already packed and loaded with UK distributors would be delivered. Most orders being currently assembled in China will never be fulfilled. Customers who had pre-paid or paid deposits were owed £13.7m by the firm: only £1.9m of this was recovered by customers from their credit card suppliers. Three hundred and twenty staff (of the 700 employees) were made redundant immediately and 79 employees working their periods of notice also left. Other employees were made redundant when the company was liquidated. The clothing chain Next purchased the rights to the brand, IP, and the Made.com websites for £3.4m, but not the stock, staff or other assets and liabilities. During autumn 2022, Made.com’s management had attempted to raise £70m to enable the firm to continue or, alternatively, to sell the business. Although the pandemic was a great time for Made.com along with other pure-play online businesses, losses occurred. As covid eased, supply-chain problems, inflation, and the fall in consumer spending (particularly on big-ticket items) in mid-late 2022 created severe problems. The company had been worth £775m when it floated on the LSE in 2020. Sales were then £305m, but rose by 63% in the first quarter of 2021. Much of the proceeds from the IPO were invested in stock – a smart move to overcome supply-chain issues and inflationary cost increases, but in retrospect the slow down in consumer spending has made the business chronically overstocked. Gross sales fell by 19% in 2022,H1, compared to the previous year. Made.com announced that gross sales for the whole year were expected to fall 15%-30% with losses of £50n-£70m. Preliminary estimates are that unsecured creditors will receive only 2% of the £187m owed them. Made.com is an online retailer, but has two showrooms. There has also been adverse press comment about the quality and durability of Made.com’s products. Shoppers adversely affected by the company's failure should contact the administrators by email  at this address:  uk_madedesign_creditors@pwc.com

  • Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, Germany's largest department store group, is to go into Germany's 'protective administrative insolvency' [their equivalent to administration] in November 2022 for the second time in three years. It has 131 large good-looking stores across Germany and employs 17,000 staff. It is expected to close around one-third of its existing stores. It previously filed for administrative insolvency in 2020, closed 40 stores, and was given €220m by the government, a €460m loan and wrote off €2,000m to help it recover from the imact of covid-19. However it was already struggling before covid. The chain was the result of merging two department store chains (together with associated specialised operations),  KarstadtQuelle AG and Galeria Kaufhof, in 2019. The group is owned by Signa, an Austrian company, which also owns Selfridges.   

  • Toys ‘R’ Us, the US-based toy 'category smasher' that went bust in 2017 and closed all its UK superstores in 2018, has shown evidence that there can be life after death by opening a new UK website with 14,00 product lines before Christmas. It will trial Toys ‘R’ Us counters in nine W H Smith stores in 2023.

  • General Store, a group of independent retail firms in the Manchester area trading from seven stores have each gone into creditors' voluntary liquidation. They continue trading, although one has closed. General Store's units are primarily convenience stores supplying commodities as well as a varying nnumber of smaller businesses and local artisan products. A Sunday Times article mentioned their Ancoats store as 'the most unusual corner shop in the north' that hosted parties and had a licensed bar as well as selling bread and milk. The businesses are being reorganised in order to secure the future. It is not known how this will affect their plans to expand.

  • TheVeganKind (TVK), the largest UK vegan supermarket, went into administration in October 2022 and was bought by its largest shareholder, thus ensuring continuity. It stocks 5,000 vegan and cruelty-free products in its supermarket and fulfilment centre at Rutherglen, Glasgow. It operates the largest vegan subscription-box service, shipping 10,000 vegan 'Discovery Boxes' every month. Both these operations will continue. The business has been acquired by a new corporate entity, owned by Literacy Capital, a closed-end investment company with a chitable objective. In its previous incarnation, TheVeganKind had suffered regular losses and was unable to continue without a new capital injection. The business continues to trade without interruption. 

  • Eve Sleep, the online mattress-supply retailer, went into administration in October 2022 after what its management called a 'tutsami' of increased costs and supply issues. Its assets and goodwill have been acquired by Benson for Beds for £0.6m. According to Retail Gazette £0.4m is owing to HMRC. When the company floated in 2019, it was worth £140m. No staff are thought likely to transfer to Bensons.

  • Jupiter Group, the Newport-based supplier of fruit to major grocers, went into administration in early September 2022. The company had acquired several compatible businesses in the last few years. Difficulties involving Brexit led to increased cost and supply problems as have the heavy increases in energy and other costs during 2022. Most staff have been made redundant, while the remaining staff have been kept on to assist with administration.

  • Bon Accord Shopping Centre, Aberdeen, continues to trade, but its current owners (Capreon Limited) went into administration early in September, 2022. The Centre covers 630,000 square feet and combines the former St Nicholas Shopping Centre (opened 1985) with the next-door Bon Accord Shopping Centre (opened 1990). There have been several owners. It appears that since the pandemic, the Centre has lost twenty stores that have closed. 

  • Tree of Life, the largest wholesaler oriented towards health and lifestyle, went into administration towards the end of August 2022. Sales were £50m+, but heavy losses have been incurred in the most-recent year. Health Stores (Wholesale) Limited also went into administration. According to The Grocer Tree of Life is part of the £100m Health Made Easy Group, which also has wholesale and retail operations. The Health Made Easy subsidiary went into adminstration a few days later. Trying to raise longer-term capital has meant that the annual returns of Tree of Life and other parts of the HME Group to Companies House are late. At the beginning of September, it was announed that the Health Store brand and its assets have been sold to Hunt's Food Group Limited. Hunt's is a major supplier of Foodservice, Retail and Natural products to retail and other service sectors. Only 17 staff members are to transfer to the new owner.   

  • Carzam, the online car retailer set up in 2020 to disrupt the automobile sector, went into administration in June 2022. Supply troubles and intense competition for new models and quality-condition second-hand cars made it hard to acquire sufficient stock. A fall in the share price also made it inmpossible to raise new capital to keep the business going. Operating margins are tight in a structure where cars have to be collected, prices agreed, valeted and 'improved', then sold on. This sector is not as easy to succeed in as first appeared.

  • Spirit.ed, formerly 31 Dover, went into administration in May 2022 after the ‘difficult trading period’ caused by covid lockdowns. Spirit.ed was set up in 2012 as an online drinks retail business. The Group’s owners, DMD Operations and Vanquish Operations (in administration), also ran a subscription gin business (The Gin Club) and two drinks wholesalers (Vanquish and OnStock). In 2019 the Group had revenues of £12m, which it hoped to expand to £30m in the early 2020s. By summer 2022, it was unable to raise sufficient additional funding to continue and went into administration.

  • Love Brownies, a Yorkshire cafe and bakery business has gone into liquidation with the loss of 70 jobs. It was founded in Ilkey in 2009 and expanded rapidly, with franchise outlets, a new bakery and a large store in Leeds. Trading was difficult during covid and the increase in supply prices for raw materials in 2022 led to losses of more than -£0.359 million in the current financial year. There are 15 outlets. The franchisees continue to trade and the website is still open.

  • Missguided, the e-commerce fashion group oriented towards younger women, went into administration at the end of May 2022. It was set up in 2009. Since it started the company enjoyed strong growth, particularly in the pandemic when most clothing stores were closed. Sales were affected when physical stores reopened after Lockdown ended. The company was reported to owe large sums of money to suppliers, several of whom applied for permission to have the company wound up. Last year similar problems led to Missguided being supported by Alteri, who tried to sell the company in April and May this year, but no buyer could be found. Missguided was then put into adminstration to protect itself from its creditors. Missguided's assets are being sold by administrators, Teneo, Frasers (the Sports-Direct-House-of-Fraser group) bought the Missguided intellectual property and associate company, Mennace for around £20m the day after Missguided went into administration. Teneo will continue to run Missguided for eight weeks, after which Frasers will run Missguided as a standalone brand. One-quarter of the 320 staff have already been made redundant - by recorded telephone call. It was reported in August that only 2p in the £1 (£0.6m) of the £30m owed by Missguided to trade creditors when it went into administration will be repaid.    

  • McColl's Retail Group, the chain of convenience stores and convenience/newsagents (CTN) trading as R S McColl, McColl's and Morrisons Daily, went into adminstration early in May 2022. The Group operates 1,300 convenience and newsagents stores throughout Great Britain, employing as many as 16,000 workers. Unlike other convenience chains, the Group did not benefit during the pandemic from increased footfall, it has suffered from supply shortages, heavy debts and has been hit by the high cost of converting its stores to the new Morrisons brand. Its debt may be £96m or £170m depending on whose figures you believe. It was originally started in 1901 by a famous Scottish footballer, R S McColl. It has changed ownership several times, becoming part of Forbuoys in 1998. It owns trading names including R S McColl (only used in Scotland), McColl’s (their branded convenience stores), and the no-longer used Martins and Dillons names. An agreement with Morrisons allows 350 McColl stores (recently increased to 450 stores) to be rebranded as ‘Morrisons Daily’, supplies being delivered by Morrisons. One-third of the estate incorporates a local post office, making the chain the largest PO operator in the UK. The Group raised £30m last year to fund store conversion to the Morrisons Daily brand. McColl's Retail Group has been hovering on the edge of bankruptcy for many weeks. A last-minute offer by Morrisons proved insufficient for its creditors and it went into administration on 6 May 2022. This is the largest failure in the retail industry since 2020. Morrisons finally is in the process of taking over the company, saving the pension fund and presumably most of the jobs. 

  • Sofa Workshop, the 16-branch multiple selling sitting-room furniture, went into administration and ceased trading end-March 2022. As well as the problems imposed by covid lockdowns, the company suffered from supply delays in receiving shipments from Asia and exceptional increases in transport costs for bring in goods from the other side of the world. These issues meant that the company ran out of money and became dependent on credit from its suppliers. The order book has been sold so customers will receive the goods they have on order. Fifteen stores have already closed and 77 staff made redundant. One store will remain open to sell off remaining stock. 

  • Click It Local, an online business partly funded by local authorities, enabling shoppers to buy and pay for goods from local stores with same-day delivery went into administration at the end of March. Originally intended to offer a virtual high street for local businesses it operated in several areas including Suffolk, the Norfolk Broads, Cambridgeshire and Essex before running out of capital.

  • Steptronic Footwear, a small Rushden-based supplier of luxury footwear, went into administration in March 2022. Its products are sold through 3,000 stores and via ecommerce.

  • T M Lewin, Shirtmaker, established in 1898, has gone into administration once more in March 2022. After its failure in 2020 it was bought by US-owned Group, Torque Brands, and went online-only, closing 150 stores. There are now around 50 employees.  Its problems are thought to be caused by the fall in formal shirt purchases as a result of WFH and increased casualisation of clothing both for leisure and for work. T M Lewin is to be bought (April 2022) by one of its major lenders, the Petra Group. It is understood that several high-street chains are interested in acquiring the group. 

  • J C Rook and Sons, butchers in Kent with a large online business and 11 stores, went into administration in March 2022. There will be 155 redundancies. The company was founded in 1965 and has established itself as a supplier mainly of local meats. 

  • Scottish retail supplier of fish products, Dawnfresh, went into administration in March 2022. Its Arbroath plant has been sold, its Uddingston plant has closed with a loss of 200+ jobs, and Dawnfresh Farming will continue to trade.

  • Irish-based Licence-holder AEO EU, operating two American Eagle stores in the Irish Republic and about to open two American Eagle stores in London, is being wound up. AEO EU's 2019 agreement to operate American Eagle and Aerie stores across Europe was eventually terminated by American Eagle (AEO) on the grounds of an unpaid debt ($7.7m) and lack of progress in meeting the terms of the original American Eagle licence. AEO EU protested that the delays were due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The termination meant that AEO EU, now unable to sell American Eagle merchandise, could no longer trade. The licence holder earned €34.5m in 2019-end 2021. In addition to the Irish stores were outlets in Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the two unopened London stores expected to trade as American Eagle and as Aerie. There were also 14 concessions in Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Andorra plus an e-commerce site.  

  • Shabby Storethe online 'modern' furniture brand, based on a trendy colour-palette of grey, white and silver along with mirrored-effect furniture, went into administration in February. Its turnover reached £2m and its customers included many style guides. It was later (April) acquired by another online company, TheRugSeller.co.uk which relaunched the Shabby Store as Shabby.co.uk selling homewares as well as furniture with the same ethos as the original Shabby Store.  

  • Studio Retail, an Accrington-based online retailer 29% owned by Mike Ashley's Fraser Group, went into administration in mid-February 2022. Studio Retail sells clothing, homeware, electricals and gifts. Its sales in the last financial year were £579m and had 2.5m customers. However losses were £75.7m. There are 1,500 employees. The reason for administration is understood to relate to a failure to raise a £25m loan, needed to fund the business and sell off surplus stock. The Group's stock exchange listing is suspended. Mike Ashley's Frasers Group acquired Studio Retail a few days later for £27m with a promise to spent £100m on the business, thus saving 1,500 jobs.. 

  • Big Home Shop, an online retailer of garden furniture, and Physioroom, online retailer of home exercise and injury protection equipment, went into administration in January 2022. Big Home Shop sales and costs were affected  by shipment delays from China and the company could not raise the extra finance required by lenders and creditors. This business also provided services and facilities for Physioroom, which as also put ito administration. The companies are based in Padiham, near Burnley.  


Company Administrations in 2021

  •  Trinity Group, a Chinese-owned upmarket fashion conglomerate, went into administration early in January 2022. The Group is understood to be heavily indebted. It owns several ‘heritage’ fashion businesses, including Kent & Curwen, Gieves & Hawkes, D’Urban (Japan) and Cerruti. Administration is thought to have become essential when it failed to find a buyer for its Gieves & Hawkes subsidiary. A majority stake in Trinity is owned by Shundong Ruyl International, based in China. This does not mean that its subsidiaries are now in administration, but they have become assets in a struggle to find the way that will repay most to Trinity’s creditors. The least likely outcome is a solvent third-party acquiring Trinity. The most likely outcome is the sale or disposal of the main subsidiaries, including: Gieves & Hawkes; Kent & Curwen; D’Urban (Japan); and Cerruti and Cerruti 1881.

  • Kesslers International, a major retail display business formed in 1888 was put into administration by its owner, the Hexcite Group, in December after trading at a loss for several years. Out of 160 staff, 125 have been made redundant. Sales for the most recent year were £20m. Press reports suggest that staff made redundant intend to sue the administrators or perhaps others responsible on the grounds that legally-required consultation with employees was not carried out before redunancies were announced. 

  • Farmdrop, an online supplier sourcing groceries direct from farmers, went into administration a few days before Christmas 2021. The company is to close down and all trading (including deliveries) has ceased (16 December 2021). Farmdrop had 10,000 customers in 2020 and sales of £11.8m compared to £5.2m the previous year. However total losses over four years amounted to £30m, according to The Grocer. Staff numbers exceeded 200. 

  • Kent & Curwen, a British ‘heritage’ menswear fashion chain previously linked to David Beckham, ceased trading in the UK in November after owners, the Trinity Group, appointed two restructuring firms as joint liquidators. The Times has suggested that several million is owed to David Beckham by Trinity for his previous work with the brand. Further information about Trinity see above.

  • Loopster, an ecommerce start-up focused on ‘vintage’ clothing , selling second-hand clothes to ‘extend the life of fashion garments’ and seed-funded by the Development Bank of Wales, went into administration in November 2021. It failed to get further financial support for expansion and so the directors put the business into administration.   

  • Gribble’s Butchers, Ivybridge, Devon. In Who’s Gone Bust in Retail we do not normally report on micro-businesses, but the experience of Gribble’s Butchers is likely to be typical of a trend amongst smaller operators. This was a family butchers, established for 27 years, with branches in Plympton and Ivybridge and a farm base at Buckfastleigh.  It won awards for the Best Butcher in the SW and other awards four times since 2012. It closed in November 2021 saying that the staff were ‘physically and mentally beaten’ by the pandemic and would be unable to deal with the pressures of a very uncertain Christmas. They returned the deposits customers had made towards their meat at Christmas. Source: Plymouth Live https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/plymouth-news/family-butcher-business-closes-staff-6147247

  • Ralph & Russo, a high-end fashion house with 450 employees, went into administration in March 2021. The business was set up in 2006 and opened stores in London, Europe and the Middle East. It sells couture, bags, accessories and shoes. Ralph & Russo was bought out of administration in July 2021 by Retail Ecommerce Ventures (owner of Dressbarn, Steinmart and Pier 1).
  • Dawsons Music, one of the oldest UK musical instrument shops (founded 1898), has gone into administration again after being relaunched last year. Five shops are to close (Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Reading, Belfast), with Chester as the sole remaining store. Forty-eight people are being made redundant. The reason for the current administration is of course the impact of the pandemic on closing non-essential stores, reducing shopper footfall, cutting sales of musical instruments to professionals and amateurs as it was impossible to play in public, and the collapse of Christmas sales. Supply difficulties over summer also hastened the company's administration. Part of the assets has been sold to Musical Options Ltd (which relaunched Dawsons Music last year), including a warehouse along with 18 staff and the online operations. 
  • JTF Mega Discount Warehouse, a membership-driven discount chain operating 12 large non-food warehouses in the Midlands and North of England, went into administration in July 2021. The business was in the process of being sold, but when the potential buyer withdrew, the company went into administration. There are 500 staff, who were made redundant immediately. InY/E 2019, the business lost almost £3m on sales of £64m. Since then it has been badly hit by the coronavirus lockdown of UK retailing, because November and December sales comprised a large percentage of its profits. The company (including the IP) has been acquired by Bargain Buys, part of Poundstrecher. Three remaining stores (Preston, Sheffield and Warrington) were closed permanently in September 2021 and nine stores have been reopened (Hull, Leeds, Lincoln, Stoke, Tamworth, Newcastle-u-Tyne, Kidderminster and Hucknall). Fifteen new JTF stores are promised in 2022.
  • Victoria's Secret UK, the underwear retailer that went into administration in June 2020, is now being liquidated and will close down. The online business, which is not owned by the main holding company, will continue to trade. Next PLC formed a joint venture last year with L Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret, to run its remaining stores and this agreement continues.   
  • Philip-Morris owned IQOS, a heated-tobacco retailer, is to close its 16 stores in the UK. It is understood that the business has failed to achieve its growth targets, although the merchandise is still available online and in other stockists. A number of agency staff have already been made redundant. Philip Morris International launched the chain in 2016. Initially it opened stores in the areas around Manchester, Bristol and London, announcing plans for a rapid expansion to 'hundreds of store' selling 'combustibe cigarette alternatives' some time before the pandemic hit Britain. 
  • Amanda Wakeley, the fashion designer T/A AW Retail Ltd, went into administration in mid-May 2021. Its flagshop store in Mayfair and concessions in several upmarket stores have already been closed. The Amanda Wakely ecommerce store is still trading. The business suffered along with other fashion companies from a covid-related slump in demand and someone to buy the business could not be found. 
  • Brooks Brothers UK Division went into administration in mid-April. The lease on its Regent Street Premises had been given up in March. The three remaining stores reopened on 12 April. The administrators hope to sell it as a going concern. In the US 'Brooks Brothers' was once the byword for business suits and a certain type of confident, young efficient businessman. The US parent, founded in 1808, fell into administration in July 2020. The UK operation was obviously pretty small, having expensive locations and a name that did not mean very much to UK shoppers. The pandemic presumably put off many prospective customers. International tourists fell to zero and UK business people could wear pjamas or old clothes when working from home.
  • Update on Peacocks, the value clothes retailer originally owned by Edinburgh Woollen Mill. The business has been transferred to a new owner, Anglo-Global Properties. and is understood to be associated with PurePlay Retailing. It is thought that many of the investors in Global are suppliers to Peacocks. Philip Day owns certain rights over the company with a fixed charge over assets and expects to be repaid by the business eventually. These charges gave him preferential rights over the disposal of the corporation, even though it had been put into administration, owing HMRC £8.9m, creditors £22.9m, landlords £29m and staff £2m. Two hundred and twenty-three stores will be closed and 2,370 jobs made redunadandant leaving 200 stores trading with 2,000 jobs. 
  • Jessops, the chain of camera dealers now with only 17 stores, appointed administrators at the end of March. It had previously gone into administration at the end of 2019, after which it closed more than half its stores. In the Lockdowns the shops have been unable to trade and more and more business is shifting online. There are around 120 staff.
  • The Hummingbird Bakery, a London-based American-style bakery, has been bought by pre-pack administration by Acropolis Capital, a family investment company. The Hummingbird bakery and three of its stores are part of the pre-pack, but two other sites are excluded. 
  • Preston St George's Shopping Centre went into the control of administrators on 1 February 2021, when its parent company (InfraRed) entered administration. InfraRed acquired the Shopping Centre in 2015 for £73m, supported by a loan from Wells Fargo Bank. Trading continues as normal, although the Preston Centre, in common with every UK shopping mall, has suffered considerably from the closure of non-food stores in Lockdown, the collapse of many major retailers in 2020 and the growth in shopping online.  
  • Paperchase, the up-market stationery, student accessories and gift business, has gone through a pre-pack administration, closing 37 stores with the loss of 500 jobs. Before issuing a notice of intent to appoint admnistrators in early January 2021, the company had 127 stores and around 1,500 staff. The new owners are to be Permira. The chain has been under pressure from changing shopper patterns. Two years ago it agreed a CVA with its creditors to reduce rents and occupancy costs. The sales of Paperchase are very dependent on people who work in cities or go shopping there. Around 40% of its sales occur in November and December each year, but government restrictions have meant that most stores had been closed for up to six of its best shopping weeks. 
  • Update on Arcadia. ASOS, the UK online fashion retailer, has acquired from the shell of Arcadia the brands and websites of Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and the athleisure HIIT brands. The purchase excludes the retail stores owned by Arcadia, but there may be further news of these later. ASOS is the largest wholesale supplier of Arcadia, so buying the online businesses may seem a reasonable strategy. The Irish arm of Arcadia comprising TopShop, Dotty P, Burton, Miss Selfridge etc have now closed and all 490 staff are being made redundant. The administrators have sold to online-retailer BooHoo, the online business and original Burton brands, Burtons, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis. Meanwhile, news from Deloitte is that Arcadia owed creditors as follows: HMRC £44.2m, suppliers £163m, landlords £35.5m and giftcard holders £5.6m.  As secured creditors, the Green's family loan of £50m takes precedence over the unsecured creditors. The bill for taxpayers will be around £250m+, consisting of the redundancy pay owing to sacked staff and supporting the pension scheme..
  • Update on Debenhams. News that BooHoo is to acquire the Debenhams' website, brands and goodwill, but close the Debenhams' stores, came on 25 January 2021. It marks the end of a well-known retailer, whose problems stemmed from the manner in which the company was managed or exploited in the last 20 years (see below for further info). Covid was not the cause of the problem. It was quite simply unable to cope with the pandemic. Many more business will go the same way.
  • Update on the Edinburgh Woollen Mill scenario, 13 January. Pureplay Retail Limited, a company backed by 'international investors' mainly thought to be from the Far East, has taken over the businesses, head offices and distribution of Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM), Ponden Home, and Bonmarché, which all went into administration in November and December 2020 owing £190m to creditors (see below).  Pureplay has taken over 50 Bonmarché stores (1,000 staff) and 246 EWM and Ponden Home sites (1,452 staff). Bonmarché originally had 225 stores when it went into administation. Around 85 EWM and 34 Ponden Home stores will be closed and their 485 staff will lose their jobs. This is in addition to the 64 closures and 860 staff that lost their jobs when EWM originally went into administration. Pureplay Retail, initally called Mistletoe Retail, was a business originally controlled by EWM, when incorporated in 2018. It seems that Philip Day, the founder of the EWM Group, may have lent investors some of the money required to buy out his operations, but retains fixed and floating charges as a secured creditor over the business along with Pureplay Retail Limited. The Jaeger brand, as noted below, is to pass to M&S. Under the new agreement, Philip Day seems to have retained ownership of the various brands that are franchised to Pureplay Retail. More will become clear over the next few months. One minor point relates to the spelling of 'Edinburgh Woollen Mill'. That spelling is the one used on its website and the UK media, but a company called Edinburgh Woolen Mill now holds a charge over Pureplay Retail. Why is that? Is it significant?
  • The Jaeger brand and stock have been purchased by Marks & Spencer, but not its staff and stores. All 63 Jaeger stores and concessions, its retail staff and 80% of head office staff will be made redundant apart from a few employeees in distribution and head office.  The brands Austin Reed and Jacques Vert, previously operating as part of the Jaeger Group, did not form part of the M&S acquisition.


Company Administrations in 2020

  • Bonmarché, the value-oriented clothing retailer, went into administration for the second time in a year on 2 December 2020. There are 226 stores and more than 1200 employees. It is owned as a separate business by Philip Day, whose EWM is also in crisis (see below). Philip Day put this company into administration a few months ago, and reaquired it via a pre-pack. It is thought unlikely that he will do this again a second time.
  • Age UK, the charity focused on supporting the elderly, closed 133 of its 392 charity outlets in 2020 and made 400 people redundant. During the Lockdown 1 approximately 70% of its staff were on furlough. 
  • Debenhams, the oldest retail chain in the UK, announced on 1 December 2020 that it had no alternative except to go into lquidation. The company has gone into administration twice in the past two years and, with the failure of Arcadia (see next item), whose concessions took up a large proportion of Debenhams' sales area, the Company's future looked very bleak. It is expected that all stores will trade until Christmas, after which the contents of every store will all be sold off, its staff made redundant and the premises vacated or transferred to new owners if other companies acquire some or all of the estate. It was announced on 25 January 2021 that BooHoo, the online retailer, would acquire the Debenhams' brands and goodwill, but the stores would be closed.  The Debenhams' name goes back to 1778, when William Clark established a drapery store at 44 Wigmore Street. It became Clark and Debenham in 1813, when Wm Debenham invested in the firm. The first store outside London was opened in Cheltenham in 1818. It became Debenham & Freebody in 1851. In 1919 it took over Marshall & Snelgrove, another department store chain, and bought Harvey Nicholas in 1920. In 1985 it was acquired by the Burton Group (later renamed Arcadia), was de-merged in 1998, acquired by private-equity consortium Baroness Retail in 2003 and become a public company again in 2006. Private equity funds in the form of TPG, CVC Capital and Merrill Lynch paid themselves £1.2bn in dividends as a reward for owning the business for only three years and increasing its debt from £100m to £1,000m. A sale and lease-back of 23 stores raised almost £495m for the temporary owners and saddled the business with long-term leases of up to 35 years. In the past 35 years it has had a variety of owners none of which was fundamentally committed to the future of Debenhams Group or was able to introduce a coherent long-term strategy. Debenhams has not been the only retail victim this year of this approach.
  • Arcadia, the fashion giant owned by Philip Green's wife in Monaco, went into adminstration on the last day of November 2020. It consists of the former Burton Group, with major subsidiaries Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Burtons, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Evans. These are all well-known brands. The administrators are allowing the stores and the website to continue to trade while new purchasers for the business(es) are found. There are around 440 stores and perhaps 12,000+ staff. The heyday of Philip Green's Arcadia was probably 2004-2007, but it failed to invest sufficiently in shops, IT or modern designs. Its dinner has been eated by upstarts like Primark, BooHoo, Zara, Next and even by grocery clothing lines. For some years, the company has lacked a clear sense of direction and suffered from low investment and an unwillingness to develop its online sales. It has cut its store numbers by more than half since 2012. Comparatively staid business like John Lewis and Next have heavily invested in their online operations and now produce half their sales online. So this could have worked for Arcadia, if it had been attempted. Large amounts have been taken out of the business in the form of dividend payments. More public interest has been generated by the Greens' luxury cruisers than by any innovation in Arcadia's shops.  There is anxiety about whether the pension assets of the Arcadia Group are sufficient to pay pensions for its past and current employees. Administration means that debts owed by Arcadia to landlords and suppliers will probably be repaid at perhaps only 1%-2% of what is owed. Apart from the effect of the Arcadia crash on its own shops and employees, its failure  will be a hammer blow for many suppliers and property owners. It has already caused JD Sports to pull of out its acquisition discussions with the Debenhams Department Store chain, because so much of Debenhams' floor space is given over to Arcadia concessions many of which may not survive after Christmas. An offer by Mike Ashley of a lifeline to keep Arcadia as a going concern was rejected.  Arcadia would probably have been in trouble at some time in 2021-22, but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of non-essential stores in Lockdown 1.0 and Lockdown 2.0 have become a death sentence for this group of businesses, giving it no chance to recover or adopt more successful strategies. 
  • Peacocks and Jaeger, both clothing businesses owned by EWM, were put into administration in mid-November after negotiations with possible suitors came to nothing. Discussions on behalf of both companies continue. Jaeger's business is more formal: it has around 76 stores and concessions employing  347 staff. Peacocks approach is more at the value end of the market: it has 423 stores and more than 4,200 staff. Both companies have gone through administration before. Both suffer from the decline in spending on clothing, the switch to online purchases by shoppers, the two lockdowns and threatened additional lockdowns in 2021, which make the future of fashion chains hard to gauge.
  • Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Mill, both part of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM Group), have gone into administration on 6 November with the initial closure of  56 EWM stores and 8 Ponden Mill shops. Eight hundred and sixty-six staff are to be made redundant. EWM Group has been given another fortnight to determine the future of the Group, but it is likely that there will be further store closures and redundancies. Meanwhile the search for buyers for the EWM chains, inlcuding EWM, Peacocks, Ponden Mill, Jaeger and other brands continues. EWM Group subsidiaries operate more than 1,000 stores and have 21,000 employees. The firm is a (previously) well-established company that bought a number of brands such as Jaeger, Austin Reed and Jane Norman from administrators. It is owned by Philip Day. He owns Bonmarché separately from EWM Group, although their stores have also put up 'closing down sale' notices in store windows. It was hit very hard  by the coronavirus lockdown, needing to pay rent on almost one thousand properties with zero income. So far the company has only reopened a little more than about one-half of its outlets after Lockdown I and they are all closed again following Lockdown II.   Its orientation towards an older market, tourists, and market-town Mill-type general products attractive to people on shopping trips has been severely hit  in 2020 (and possiby into 2021 as well). The store numbers figures quoted here are on the high side and rather dated, but EWM Group has 384 Edinburgh Woollen Mill stores and other shops trading as Peacocks (479), Bonmarché (220), Ponden Mill (65), James Pringle (and other names) (88 stores) and 27 stores combining several EWM fascias. It is almost certain that a proportion will close. Apart from its sheer  scale, the importance of Edinburgh Woollen Mill has been that in the last few years Philip Day has been the only entrepreneur actively buying distressed retailers apart from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct (now Frasers Group).
  • J Crew, American 'preppy' clothing retailer, is to close all six of its UK stores making their staff redundant. Its parent company has recently emerged from administration and seems to have decided to liquidate its UK subsidiary. 
  • Celine Group Holdings, the parent company of Debenhams, has called in FRP Advisory to prepare for its own administration. This is understood to have been done to prevent any creditor taking action against them in the period when Debs is up for sale and trying to find a new owner. It is said that interest is overdue on £200m of loans made to Celine: administration would mean there would be no need to pay it. Any administration of Celine would not affect Debenhams store operation per se
  • M&Co, the Scots-based value clothing retailer previously called Mackays, has gone into administrators and been bought by its previous owners as part of a pre-pack to save the business. There are 262 stores and 2,700 employees. The covid-19 lockdown cost the firm more than £50m: in its last financial year profits fell by 40% to £3.6m. Forty-seven stores are to close (380 redundancies) as part of its recovery plan. The company was established in 1961. 
  • D W Sports, a sportswear and gym retailer owned by Dave Whelan, went into administration in the first days of August. The company's outlets - as non-essential retailers - have been closed since lockdown started: its 73 gyms were about to re-open until the change in government policy that postponed the resumption of trading by gymnasia, bowling alleys etc. There are 75 DW Sports retail stores: these will all close in four weeks. The Group has a total of 1,700 employees. Twenty-five stores have closed already. The Fitness First Group which is also owned by Dave Whelan is not to go into administration: its 43 clubs will remain trading. 
  • Feather & Black, the award-winning bed specialist rescued in 2017 from administration, has been bought by Dreams. None of its stores is to reopen after the easing of lockdown. It will become online only, probably with concessions in Dreams.  Oustanding orders will be honoured. The Company was rumoured last February to be up for sale, so these closures are not strictly caused by coronavirus, although being closed for three months would not have helped its chances of survival.  
  • Grosvenor Shopping Centre in Chester went into receivership along with its car park earlier in July 2020. It was originally built in the 1960s and refurbished in the 80s. There are 101 retail units, all on one level. The Shopping centre continues trading. 
  • Oliver Sweeney Trading, the retail arm of the prestige shoe company Oliver Sweeney Group, was placed in administration in mid-July. All its seven stores are closed as the company sees its retail future as online only. This administration does not affect the wholesaling and online arms of the business. 
  • Muji,  the Japanese high-street homewares retailer, has applied for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. It has debts of $64m and the Covi-19 lockdowns in the UK and the U.S. have hit it hard. It won't be included in our UK figures, but, under U.S. law the corporation will be required to produce an exit plan to revamp the company. This may well have implications for UK stores. The stores continue to trade. 
  • Cardinal, the Yorkshire-based firm of shopfitters (outfitting or remodelling store interiors), went into administration in mid-July. One hundred and thirty-five staff amongst its 170 employees have already been made redundant. Their business has been hit by the pandemic. In addition their customers (ie the retailers) were unable to make firm commitments about work they needed in 2020, H2, into 2021. The impact of covid-19 upon retailers has meant that most companies are now unsure about the number, type and location of stores that they are going to need in 2021-2025. The collapse of work for Cardinal is a symptom of the bloodbath on the high street.
  • Soletrader, a footwear retailer established in 1962, went into a creditors' voluntary liquidation in mid-July 2020. A new group, Twinmar London, operates the stores, most of which re-opened for trading in July 2020. Eight shops were closed. Soletrader's website were a separate entity and was unaffected by the liquidation. 
  • Peter Jones (China), a 50-year old crockery and gift business based in Wakefield, went into administration in mid-July. It had not opened after the lockdown eased. There were ten stores and 76 staff. The business is expected to be liquidated. 
  • Norville Group, a Gloucestershire-based firm of opticians and optical suppliers to the industry, went into administration early in June after selling its nine Norville Opticians' practices the previous week. Since then the former Norville laboratories, which were renowned for being able to produce lens to the very highest standard, have been acquired from administration by Inspecs, the new owener of the Norville Group, and continue to trade. 
  • Benson Beds, the beds and bedding business owned by Alteri, was put into pre-pack administration at the same time as Harveys (see below). Alteri bought the business out immediately and put £25m into the company to invest in its development. There are 242 stores and 1,900 staff. Bensons (at present) is seen as a much better business than Harveys, most UK bedding is made in the UK, it faces less competition from overseas operators and Alteri is likely to focus on improving its operations, while keeping Harveys Furniture stable. The company continues to trade and existing orders will be fulfilled.  
  • Harveys Furniture, the second largest furniture retailer in the UK, was put into administration by its owners, Alteri Investors on the last day of June. There are 105 stores, which have been struggling for some years, and 1,575 staff. The company is looking to close 20 stores and make 240 staff redundant. The company continues to trade and existing orders will be satisfied. 
  • T M Lewin, retailer of shirts and ties online and in 65 stores, went into administration on the last day of June after failing to find a buyer. The shops have not re-opened following the relaxation of the lockdown. The busines had been acquired from Bain private equity only last month (May). The new owners, SCP Private Equity, expect to close all the stores, making the company online only. Six hundred employees are likely to lose their jobs. 
  • Bertram Books, the Norwich-based book wholesaler, went into  administration towards the end of June 2020 with debts now (Aug 2020) known to be £25m. Most of its 450 workforce has been made redundant. Bertrams was particularly important to smaller publishing companies. Changes in the book market in the last 20 years including the growth of online sales and dramatic price cutting,  highly-promoted 'blockbusters', the growth of Amazon and direct-to-customer applications as well as e-books adversely affected Bertram Books' business model. But that is not all. Sub-optimal decision-making by a succession of uncommitted owners have brought it down. Bertrams started in 1968 in a chicken shed in Elsie Bertram's garden as a project for her and her son. By 1999, when it was first sold, Mrs Bertram was 86, Bertrams was the second-largest book wholesaler in the UK,  and it employed 700 people. In 2007, it was bought by the Woolworths Group and went into administration with the rest of the Company before being bought by Smiths News, the magazine/newspaper distributor of W H Smith. In 2018 it was bought by Aurelius, a German private equity group, who later sold Wordery, Bertram's online operation, to the Waterstone's book chain and Bertram's library division to an Italian business. The coronavirus pandemic, closing both libraries and bookshops, proved to be the final blow for Bertram Books. Was all this inevitable? Probably not. 
  • Intu Properties, the  major property company that owns and manages some of the largest and best UK retail malls, went into administration on 26 June 2020. Many of its retail clients are not paying their rents and INTU's creditors are not as forebearing. It has total debts of £4.5bn, a merger with a European propery company came to nothing and it has failed to raise more capital. Its recent negotations with other parties, where it hoped to arrange a 'standstill agreement' with its lenders, led to no useful outcome, so it went into administration. Major sites include Lakeside, Glasgow's Braehead, Manchester's Trafford Centre, Nottingham's Victoria Centre and Norwich's Chapelfield. This administration will be a major blow to the UK retail sector, although, coming after many other impossible-to-believe 'major blows', its significance may be less apparent. It may not be possible for the Admiinistrators to run all the shopping centres without outside funding, although so far all sites have been kept open. It is still possible that many of their shopping centres will close unless a new potential buyer acquires some or all of them. Some observers who have used the lockdown to re-think their personal philosophy may rejoice at the decline of this bastion of consumerism. But the destruction of asset wealth in terms of commercial property, will adversely affect property prices, the stability of most retailers, pension funds, shares, unit trusts, tax revenue, job opportunities etc etc and bring home to the public the enormity of the slump we have managed to stumble into. 
  • Go Outdoors, the outdoor sports, walking, climbing, camping, riding and exercise retailer owned by JD Sports, wwnt into administration towards the end of June. It was immediately bought out of administration by J D Sports for £56.5m (pre-pack administration), enabling hte company to be reorganised.  J D Sports has stated that it wishes needs to re-think the Go Outdoors business but does not expect large-scale redundancies and closures. There are 2,400 employees and 67 stores. Since the firm was bought by JD Sports it has lost £291m (to August 2019) and the massive losses caused by the coronavirus lockdown have only worsened the situation. In July, the Administrators estimated that unsecured creditors would receive only 1p in the £1.
  • Lee Longlands, the Birmingham-based upmarket furniture retailer, went into administration in June 2020 to enable the company to restructure and improve cash flow. The company continues to trade and outstanding orders have been met. The company successfully came out of administration in June 2021. There are six stores, mostly in the Midlands. Lee Longlands was purchased via a management buy-out in 2015. The company started in Broad Street Bham as an antiques business in 1902.
  • Poundstretcher Properties, a company connected to discount-chain Poundstretcher, is to be placed into administration as part of a CVA programme by 450-store group Poundstretcher to reorganise its store portolio, cut rents and reduce other costs. The Poundstretcher Group has argued that around 250 stores will close if the CVA is not approved by its creditors. Poundstrecher Properties holds the leases on only 23 stores  and this will not affect the legal position or ownership of the group as a whole. Poundstretcher faces the same issues as the rest of the high street, compounded by the lockdown, now in its 85th day (it is really that long?).
  • Oak Furnitureland, the specialist furniture store that started off on eBay, has gone into administration, and was immediately bought out of administration (pre-pack) by hedge-fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management. There are 105 showrooms and 1,491 empoyees. The business continues still to trade, but the new owner expects to rationalise the business, probably through the closure of some stores and reductions in staff. 
  • French-themed retailer, bread/coffee/restaurant chain Le Pain Quotidien went into pre-pack administration in mid-June. It has been bought out of administration by a new vehicle, BrunchCo21, believed to be linked to its former owner, Cobepa. Ten of its 26 outlets have been closed with the loss of around 200 jobs in stores and the closure of its head office. The new owners expect to negotiate T&C with the landlords of the remaining 16 properties, and the results may lead of course to further closures. 
  • Monsoon Accessorize, the womenswear and accessories chain with 181 stores, went into administration early in June. It is a private company owned by its founder, Peter Simon: it started as a market stall. Monsoon Accessorize was immediately bought out of administration by Peter Simon. Thirty-five stores are to be closed with 545 employees being made redundant. The business had 181 stores and 2,534 UK staff before administration. It is understood that Monsoon does not expect that every landlord will agree to the new conditions, but hopes to save around 100 stores and 2,300 jobs. The stores are based on careful, edited retailing which only encountered problems in the last decade. In 2019 the company survived a previous crisis through a large cash injection from its owner, the closure of 40 stores and a CVA that cut rents on three-quarters of its stores. The group's survival after the current crisis will also depend upon how readily shoppers will return to physical stores post-coronavirus and by how much their tastes and buyer behaviour will have changed in this new environment. Monsoon's international business is unaffected, with 49 stores and 966 staff outside the UK. 
  • Quiz, the Glasgow-based fashion group, put its physical stores division into administration in early June. Ninety-three head-office and warehouse redundancies have already been declared. The business wants to renegotiate rents for its 82 stores and the eventual size of the group will only be known, when this has been done. KPMG has been appointed to review the firm's options, which are likely to include store closures.  There are 915 staff in the stores division. Quiz's online business continues unaffected, as are its 300+ concessions. 
  • Victoria's Secret, the UK arm of the U.S.-owned global retailer, went into administration early in June  2020 having made a loss now known (Aug 2020) to be £100m in the last financial year. The UK fashion trade has experienced a torrid three years and the coronavirus lockdown, which prevented 'non-essential' stores trading (though not online), has been the final hammer blow. Victoria's Secret has probably lost its original appeal: the aftermath of the Me-too campaign may have made the chain seem slightly tacky. There are 25 stores and 800 staff. The company sells ladies' underwear. The company is reported as looking for a light-touch administration, allowing them to restructure the business, reduce costs and possibly find a new owner.
  • Aldo, a Canadian-based international chain of stores, went into administration early in May. This has led to the UK arm going into administration at the end of May. Five UK stores have been permanently closed, leaving eight surviving while the administrators seek new owners for the UK business. The UK network is obviously up for sale, but many of the stores are franchised and are not 'owned' by Aldo Canada. Aldo shoes, handbags and accessories are still available for purchase in the UK both online and in its 28 UK concessions (including Selfridges, Debenhams and House of Fraser).  The Irish arm of Aldo has already gone into administration. The company and its brands (chiefly 'Aldo' and 'Call It Spring')  are major international businesses, operating around 3,000 stores globally served by 20,000 staff. Apart from the UK, Aldo businesses are expected to reopen as each government permits in the post-coronavirus world. The main reason the company gives for its problems is: the world-wide closures of its stores caused by governments' attempts to limit the spread of coronavirus.  
  • DVF Studio, the luxury fashion company owned by Diane von Furstenberg, has gone into administration, citing 'coronavirus', and is closing its Mayfair store. The company has an online business as well as concessions in prestigious department stores, including Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. It announced earlier in 2020 that it was starting a subscription luxury service. The e-commerce business and concessions continue to trade.  
  • Antler, the luggage retailer which runs 18 stores and a concession, went into administration in mid-May. There are 194 employees: 164 of these have been made redundant. The Administrators announced in mid-July that they had successfully sold the brand name, Online business, stock and assets, but the stores remain closed and there was no news of their future. 
  • Johnsons' Shoes, also trading as Bowleys Fine Shoes, went into administration in mid-May. There are 12 stores, all in the South East of England. The 145 furloughed staff will retain their jobs as the administrators seek to reopen the businesses. The group was later acquired by Newjohn Limited, part of Daniel Footwear. Six stores were closed.
  • Dawson's Music, one of the oldest stores selling musical instruments (est. 1898), went into administration early in May. There are six stores in Leeds, Manchester, Chester, Liverpool, Reading and Belfast. It is still opan and is hoping to be sold as a going concern. There are 75 staff. The coronavirus lockdown proved to be the last straw for a retail group that was already facing a decline in sales. There is also an Educational Division which supplies schools, colleges and universities. In late May, the chain was purchased by Andrew and Karen Oliver, who took over all the stores and retained the staff.
  • J Crew, the U.S. fashion retailer with six UK stores, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the beginning of May. It has 500 stores in the U.S., trades online, and owns the J Crew Factory and Madewell brands. It intends to continue trading online while it gives control of the business to its lenders who will cancel debts of $1.65bn (£1.3bn). It is unclear how this will affect its UK business.
  • L K Bennet, the fashion retailer which went into administration in March 2019, is to extend its administration for another twelve months. The company expects to open seven stores on 15 June 2020 (when non-essential stores are allowed to start trading) with the remaining 10 stores to open at a later date. 
  • Oasis and Warehouse, two fashion retailers owned by Icelandic-Bank Kaupthing, went into administration in mid-April 2020, having failed to find a buyer for the group.  All its 92 stores were closed, 2,300 staff made redundant and the 437 concessions terminated. The 13 stores and 29 concessions in the Irish Republic had already gone in into administration under Irish law: there were 248 staff in Ireland.  The Oasis and Warehouse brands and e-commerce operations were bought by Hilco, which sold them in June to BooHoo, the successful e-commerce apparel business. BooHoo raised £200m in May to help it take advantage of 'opportuunities', and now also owns brands such as NastyGal, PrettyLittleThing, Karen Millen, MissPap and Coast. Concessions and stores in other countries will continue to trade. Oasis and Warehouse had been suffering recently from the problems common to most UK mid-range fashion businesses. The coronavirus lockdown - closing all its stores - made it impossible to continue operating and ended any chance of a sale to a business wanting the stores to continue.  
  • Debenhams, the UK department store group now owned by its lenders following administration in 2019, has appointed administrators once again to protect itself from its creditors. Creditors were considering using winding-up orders to get paid. Although the company has closed 22 stores this year and expected to close 28 in 2021, the new administration is likely to hasten the demise of many more of its outlets in the longer term. Although its online operations are supplying customers, all its stores are in lockdown. It has heavy debts of around £600m. The comapny is loss-making and without the sales revenue from its exisitng stores it is in deep trouble. Debenhams has closed its Irish division permanently, which has eleven stores, 958 staff and 300 concessions. Debs is also closing its Hong Kong and Bangladeshi subsidiaries. 
  • Spicers, the office-supplies wholesaler, employing 1,200 people started by John Spicer in 1796 ceased trading in April. It was originally part of the Spicer paper and stationery company and split in 1985. It built up a European presence, but the UK arm and the European operations were separated in 2011, Spicers being bought by Better Capital, the private equity firm controlled by John Moulton. When it went into administration its administrators were not able to sell it and the business was liquidated.  
  • Simply Scuba, an award-winning diving retailer based in Faversham, went into administration in June. Thirty-two jobs are at risk. SimplyScuba has won the Dive Retailer of the Year award for ten years in succession. The Simply Group also runs SimplyHike and SimplySwim. The Simply Scuba website continues to trade, with its new 500M Divers Watch on sale today for £109.

  • Kath Kidston, the vintage-inspired fashion and accessories chain, appointed administrators early in April 2020. It has now announced that it will close its UK branches, concentrating on Asia, the wholesale business and online sales. The company - like many fashion retailers - has had problems in maintaining sales and profitability. Since 2018 it lost £27mn, resulting in its closing stores and cutting head-office staff. There are 200 stores globally.  All 60 UK sites are to close, with only 32 of its 941 UK staff being retained. It will now operate in the UK as an online-only retailer. The company's owners, Barings Private Equity Asia, have bought it out of administration on a pre-pack basis, having previously tried to sell it. Finances were so poor towards the end that initially Kath Kidson announced that they would only be paying part of the wages owed to employees: they have now agreed to make payments in full, but a up to a week late. The company suppliers, including HMRC and clothing manufacturers, are owned £90m by the failed company. 
  • Autonomy Clothing, a small fashion chain with three stores, 100 concessions and 44 staff, went into administration towards the end of March 2020. It has been beset by the same problems as the rets of the industry, the lockdown being the last straw. All employees have been made redundant. 
  • Lombok, the aspirational furniture and furnishings business, went into administration at the end of March. It operates both online and offline and is best known for its teak products made mostly from reclaimed timber. It has experienced two pre-pack administrations before (2009 and 2011). All 43 staff have been made redundant.
  • Brighthouse, the rent-to-own household goods retailer, appointed administrators at the end of March 2020. There are 240 stores and 2,700 employees. The administration does not affect customers that rent goods, as their obligations will transfer first to the administrators and then to any new owner. This controversial business mainly deals with low-income households and was fined by the financial regulator for mis-selling and 'unfair' interest charged as part of consumer transactions. The compensation it must pay to 250,000 customers is understood to cost £1m per month and its most-recent financial report (February 2020) showed showed corporate losses of £16m. The company was originally called Radio Rentals whose business was renting out first radios and later TV equipment: they guaranteed to keep rented electronic goods in good repair at a time when electrical goods would often break down. 
  • Laura Ashley, the fashion retailer with 155 stores, went into administration in mid-March 2020. The administrators permanently closed 70 of the company's outlets: 1,669 staff were furloughed and 677 staff continued working in the business with more redundancies announced in mid-June. Only 18 of its remaining stores have re-opened post lockdown, though this may not be ominous. Gordon Bros have been allowed to purchse the Laura Ashley brand and its archives, leaving the future of the stores, logistics and manufacturing in Britain and Ireland unresolved.  The Pension Protection Fund is asking for another administrator to be appointed to ensure the protection of Laura Ashley shareholders. Laura Ashley has had problems for more than 20 years. Administration comes after a long period of poor results from a retailer that had been a star in the 80s and early 90s. The post-2016 deterioration in fashion sales affecting most clothing retailers was certainly a factor, but the failure of the business to match modern consumer requirements meant it was difficult to see the purpose of the company. Latterly it had more success with its furnishing and homeware than fashion. The conoravirus epidemic early in 2020 led to a sudden drop in footfall and store sales, which finally prompted the company's move into administration. Gordon Brothers. a US-based restructuring corporation, bought Laura Ashley out of administration in late April.
  • Kikki.K, an Australian-based retail group selling Swedish-designed stationery, has gone into voluntary administration as a result of the problems of Australian retailing plus the cost of its global expansion (now including Hong Kong, the UK, Singapore and New Zealand). There are up to five stores in the UK, three shops-within-shops in stores like Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges and an online business which, in Europe, seems now to be switched through to Australia. There are 100 stores globally. The Australian stores remain open, but the UK online business is currently uncontactable due to 'unprecedented shipping delays'. 
  • Some Good News. Homebase, the DIY chain, has returned to profit after its experiences first as Bunnings UK and then a large CVA case. It used its CVA to cut rents and close more than 70 stores. It is therefore quitting its CVA eighteen months early. CVAs have had mixed results when used by retailers, but this is one that seems to have turned up trumps for the business.
  • Soak, a major online bathroom products retailer, went into adminstration at the end of February. The market is intensely competitive and Soak's revenue fell from £70m (2018) to £43m (2019). Its profit on the 2018 figures was only £2.9m. Price competition between online and bricks-and-mortar retailers has meant that few operators are making much of a profit, hence the decline of Soak and the collapse of other kitchen and bathroom retailers, such as Better Bathrooms. There are 220 employees.
  • Bonmarché, the value-oriented clothing retailer that went into administration in October 2019, has now been purchased by Edinburgh Woollen Mills (its previous owner). It is being placed in the same operating division as Peacocks. So far only 200 stores have been acquired, leaving 70 stores in administration. A number of Bonmarché stores have 'closing-down' notices in their front windows and these are expected to disappear. When further information about Bonmarché is available, it will be shared here.  
  • T J Hughes Outlet Division has issued  a notice of intended administration  for its Outlet Division, prior to renegotiating their rents. Lewis's Home Retail Limited, a subsidiary of LHR Holdings (the master company for T J Hughes), owns eight stores, two of which have already been saved via agreed rent reductions. This does not affect the whole Group, but only outlet stores. More information as it becomes available.   
  • HonestJohn.co.uk, the online advice website for car owners, went into adminstration and has been bought by Heycar, an online retailer of used cars. The staff, IP and assets have been transferred.
  • Ashbury Furniture, a large furniture and soft furnishings salesroom, went into administration in February, caused by constant road engineering on the M20 (making it hard to get to the showroom) and the impact of rent and rates.
  • Ena Shaw, a producer and retailer of soft furnishings based in St Helens, went into administration in February 2020, closing its factory and store. There were 167 employees.
  • Oddbins, the wine and drinks off-licence business of European Food Brokers, went into administration at the beginning of February. There are 56 stores, mostly trading as Oddbins or Wine Cellars: two have now closed. Employees number around 567. Less than one year ago 45 EFB off-licence businesses were sold or closed  on the basis that they were no longer viable.  
  • Hearing and Mobility, a spcialist national chain of hearing and mobility stores, has ceased trading and administrators have been appointed. Hearing and Mobility (HHML) is a Northampton-based company founded in 2002 with 18,000 customers. It established a chain of 27 hearing and mobility stores throughout Britain, later focusing mainly on the Midlands and the South with 15 stores. Starting in 2016, the company closed many of its mobility stores to concentrate on hearing disabilities. The company rarely made a profit and by January 2020 had only four stores. After its stores had 'temporarily' ceased trading they were sold to two other companies trading in this vertical market. Amplify Hearing has acquired HHML hearing operations, assets and 76 staff, enabling customers to continue being provided with service. 
  • Hawkins Bazaar, a Norwich-based toy/games retailer with a focus on adult merchandise, went into administration in the latter days of January. There are 20 stores and 177 staff. The company went into administration previously in 2011. Weak trading in 2019 and a poor Christmas have led the firm's current problems. The stores will remain open while a buyer is found, but by mid-February were all to close.
  • Houseology, a Glasgow-based ecommerce furniture business, has gone into administration after a doleful Christmas. Twenty-three staff have been made redundant. Bureau, its office-oriented associate business, contiues to trade and is not affected by Houseology's failure. Houseology was set up in 2010 and is perhaps best-known for being backed by famous names such as Terry Leahy, Mike Welch and Bill Dobbie. By the end of February Houseology's assets including IP had been acquired by competitor Olivia, part of the Moot Group. Moot Group started in 2018 and is targeting turnover of £20m by end-2020.
  • Beales, a 22-store department store chain, went into into administration, having failed to find a new owner or additional finance in the latter end of 2019. At first, the company's stores remained open in the hope that a new owner could be found. They have all now closed. The loss-making stores in the Midlands and the South were closed suddenly when no new owner cold be found, and were followed a fortnight later by the remaining stores, which were mostly in East Anglia. The company had announced in December 2019 that it was in difficulties and needed refinancing. Beales was originally set up in 1881 in Bournemouth as the Fancy Fair and Oriental House, taking advantage of the then-current craze for Chinese-themed merchandise. Originally a strong independent department store, Beales had been buying other department stores for 25 years in order to gain scale. It bought Bentalls in 2002 and in the last eleven years has grown by acquisition through taking over small groups of ex-Co-op and small independent department stores, which were not in great shape when they were acquired. These stores were generally in smaller towns like Bedford, Keighley, Mansfield, Peterborough, Skegness, Yeovil, Spalding, Diss, Beccles and Wisbech . Losses rose from -£1.3m in 2018 to -£3.1m in 2019 and poor trading over Christmas made it essential to secure new funding. Beales employed more than 1,200 staff. Colliers International reported in January 2020 that Beales was paying £2.85m in business rates, £1m more than should have been the case.


Who’s Gone Bust in 2019 by Company 

  • Joy, a fashion retailer, announced on 30 December 2019 that it intended to appoint administrators. The group was founded by Joy Maureen Chadha, who purchased 12 of its stores after it first went into administration in 2008. The group collapsed again in 2017, and was bought out of administration by Mrs Chadha. There are ten stores and concessions and 182 employees.
  • The Book People, an online and direct-sales book distributor, went into administration on 18 December 2019. Three-quarters of sales are online and one-quarter direct selling using agents in schools, mobile stores, pop-ups and company workplaces. There are 393 staff, including 230 at their warehouse in Bangor. The company was owned by Endless and will attempt to fulfil every order currently placed and accepted. Sales in 2017 were £71.5m, but 2017 profits fell to £1.1m from £6m in 2016. Debts were £33m. It sells more than 17m children's books annually. As a simple example of the knock-on effects of corporate insolvency, The Book People's partnership with the independent Norwich-based publisher, Galley Beggar, in jointly producing a special edition of Booker-prize winning Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport, meant their £40K invoice would never be paid. This led Galley Beggar needing to raise additional funds using by crowdfunding. They had raised what they needed, however, by the next day.
  • A management buyout of the Regis UK and Supercuts hairdressing businesses that went into administration in October kept 140 salons (1,000 jobs), but 60 salons are to close. Another 40 salons had closed before the buyout was announced. 
  • Swoon, eCommerce furniture retailer, having gone through a pre-pack administration after trading problems, is now back in the hands of its co-founders, Brian Harrison and Debbie Williamson. The staff are to be given a stake in the new business. Major investors in what, until early-mid 2019, was regarded as a very significant, design-led provider, such as Octopus Ventures, Index Ventures and Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman have lost their equity.  
  • Jessops, the camera retailer saved from liquidation by Peter Jones in 2012, was put through pre-pack administration in early December 2019. Administration relates to Jessops’ property company which holds the occupancy agreements for the retail trading arm. The company had been trying to renegotiate rents and close weak stores for some months, hit by poor consumer demand and high rates, rents and operating costs. Sales to April 2018 rose by 20% more than 2017, so Jessops had been able to cope with poor trading conditions.  However 2019 has been a crisis year for many retailers. Jessops had a period in November when it was ‘examining all its options’ but went into administration to give the company greater leeway over its occupancy costs. It is anticipated that further stores will be shut.   
  • Clintons, the struggling greeting-cards business with 332 stores and 2,500 staff, went through a pre-pack administration early in December 2019 that ‘saved’ the business but wiped out many suppliers of goods and services to the chain. Since 2012, Clintons has been owned by American Greetings, a dominant U.S. card company. Clintons had attempted to use a CVA to cut rents and close 66 stores, but could not get approval from its landlords to do this. The pre-pack administration was Clintons’ strategic response. Administration also means the cancellation of existing rental agreements, enabling the company to agree lower rents or close stores where landlords refuse to comply.  
  • Mamas and Papas, the babywear and baby equipment retailer, went into pre-pack administration a few days after Mothercare. Although it supplies Mothercare, the two events are unrelated. There are 32 stores and more than 740 staff. The company has been bought - sans debt - by associated businesses of its former owner, Bluegem Capital. Six stores are to be closed with approximately 128 staff. 
  • Mothercare, troubled mother-baby-youngster retailer, went into administration early in November 2019. The administrators have announced the closure of its stores 'in weeks or months' although they are still holding talks with interested parties. Some stores started closing-down sales only days after the company went into administration. In 2018, Mothercare used a CVA to cut its store numbers in the expectation that losses would be curbed and most sales from closed outlets would transfer to the remaining stores. However without a radical new programme and strategy few sales transferred to remaining branches. Losses last year were £36.3m. Another CVA missed opportunity. It was once the go-to destination for young mothers. Indeed I remember being marched to the Mothercare in Oxford by my wife-to-be when we had only been going out a few weeks. But that was then. A series of historic problems cut the chain down from almost 400 stores in 2009 to 79 today. There are 2,500 staff. The company’s owners cannot discern a strategy to return the business to profitability and have not found a buyer, hence the only other option has been administration. Meanwhile, the 900-store Mothercare operations in more than 40 other countries are doing well and are not affected by the administration of the UK business. The Irish Mothercare chain is unaffected. Some history. The company started in 1961 as a maternity products, prams and pushchair business. It was regarded as having good IT skills and went early into mail order with the famous Mothercare Catalogue in 1962. It developed quickly and merged with Habitat in 1984, with Conran in the top job. Soon in 1986 the new group took over British Home Stores to create a new retail powerhouse called Storehouse (which including Richard shops). It did not work. Mothercare itself lost focus in the unwieldy large group and had to wait until 1999 before it became a separate business again.    
  • Hourstons (formerly Arnotts), a major independent department store in central Ayr, collapsed in 2019 and its site is currently empty. It has been designated to become a new leisure complex along with the site of the former Arran Mall in 2023.
  • Forever 21, the $6bn US fashion chain with stores in 57 countries, has applied for Chapter 11 (=voluntary bankruptcy) in the U.S.. Its UK operation has entered administration as a result. The U.S. corporation has announced it will cut its store totals from 800 by almost one-half, showing that the corporation has serious trading problems in most countries. The Oxford Street store already has a closing-down sale notice over the door and the Birmingham and Liverpool stores are likely to follow in the New Year. The three stores will run a big £30m clearance sale till after Christmas.  
  • Regis UK and Supercuts, hairdressing salons, went into administration in October. There are 220 salons and 1,200 staff. These are not retailers but an important element of many high streets. They probably expanded too quickly in the early 2010s and have agreed rents that were much too high. Regis UK started a CVA a year ago designed to cut their rent bill. This led to a legal challenge from property owners who thought their contribution to the Regis chain's healthy future was excessive, compared to what was required from other creditors. Higher wage costs from the'living wage' and the levy have also undermined their profitability. Hairdressing competion is now intense with a flood of new entrants on the scene. 
  • Bonmarché, budget clothing chain aimed at the fashion-conscious over-50s shopper with 318 stores, went into administration in mid-October as a result of falling sales and a profits collapse. There are 2,887 employees. The company continues to trade while a buyer is found. The company was bought by Philip Day (Edinburgh Woollen Mill) earlier in 2019, so putting it through administration only a few months later is a conundrum, as Philip Day is regarded a very canny operator. His businesses turn over more than £650m sales through 1,113 stores employing more than 24,000 staff.
  • Watt Brothers, an important department store chain with 11 stores in Central Scotland, went into administration in mid-October after continued yearly losses. The administrators closed ten leasehold stores immediately:229 employees were made redundant out of a total of 306 staff. The Sauchiehall Street flagship remains open to sell off stock, but will close in mid-December. 
  • Tomlinsons Dairies, a milk and dairy food supplier with 330 employees, went into administration in mid-October. It is based in Wrexham with additional plants in Chester and Shropshire.
  • Vodafone, the telecoms business, is to close more than 1,100 stores in Europe by the end of 2020 as parts of its plans to focus more on online transactions. There are 7,700 stores, including 421 in the UK. These changes relate to reordering the business rather than cutting costs, the company says. There is no danger of administration.
  • Khaadi Fashion, an Asian retailer with ten stores, went through pre-pack administration. Four outlets are to close, bringing its staff numbers to around 62 staff. It was set up in 2013.
  • Links of London, specialist jeweller with 25 stores and 360 staff, went into long-predicted administration on 8 October. The owners had been seeksing new investment or a CVA, but continuing losses meant they were forced into administration before a new deal could be arranged.
  • Thomas Cook, travel agent and airline company, collapsed into liquidation in September. It is not a retailer, but 560 high-street stores and 9,000 staff are a big part of every high street. Liquidation was chosen because no administrator could stand the risk of running such a huge business until a new owner could be found or Thomas Cook was split up and sold in parcels. However, 555 high street stores were quickly sold at low cost to Hays Travel/Just Go only a week later. This may mean these fears were too pessimistic. The new owners are continuing to operate all stores, but when legally possible they will probably force rents down and/or close part of the estate.
  • Albemarle & Bond, the high street pawnbroker, has closed all its 113 stores, although it claims to be solvent. Its Japanese owners wish to sell the business. They are believed to have disposed of the loans and goods being used as security to a competitor, H&T, who have declared their intention to support the former Albemarle & Bond clients. H&T have almost 250 branches. It is not yet known whether all secured items have been transferred to H&T and how (or whether) the new regime has been communicated to former clients. In September it was reported that Albemarle & Bond were transferring pledged goods to a fortified unit in Oxford, raising concerns from clients about how yo manage the return of their pledges. 
  • Lingerie Outlet Store, which trades ladies underwear, sportswear and swimsuits using Amazon, eBay and its own website, went into administration in September 2019. It has a strong international market. There are 26 staff.
  • Karen Millen and its subsidiary Coast, fashion companies, sold its online operations to the owners of Boohoo in August 2019, after pre-pack administration. Karen Millen had acquired parts of Coast in October 2018, ‘saving the business’. Karen Millen lost £11.9m in 2017 and £5.7m in 2018. The Company is a further victim of the collapse of Debenhams and Frasers. Administrators say the stores will trade for a period, but most stores will then close. There are 32 stores and 177 concessions, employing 1,100 people. Liquidators have been appointed to the Irish K Millen chain (two stores and 16 concessions).
  • Karen Millen’s (Australia) operations went into voluntary administration in September and is expected to close.
  • Jack Wills, the preppy young person’s fashion outfitter, went into pre-pack administration early in August and was acquired by Sports Direct. There are 100 stores and 1,700 staff, in the UK. The overseas brands in Ireland, the U.S., Hong Kong (already closed), Kuwait, Audi and UAE are being handled separately
  • Gerry Weber, German fashion retailer, is to close its 26 UK/Ireland stores by October 2019 following the parent company’s insolvency. Gerry Weber products will still be available through concessions, stockists and online.
  • Stefanel, part of the Italian womenswear group, went into administration at the end of June following the collapse of its parent company earlier in the week.
  • The Money Shop, a loan, pawnbroking, foreign exchange and cheque-cashing company, is to close or sell its stores in the near future. Some stores have already ceased to operate. Five years ago it had 500 stores, but 98 now. The Nottingham-based company with 427 staff is believed to loss-making and is under pressure from the FCA.
  • Bathstore, the bathroom specialist with 168 stores and almost 700 staff, appointed administrators, having failed to find a new buyer. The company was started in 1990, bought by Wolseley in 2003, sold to Endless in 2012 and sold again in 2014 to Warren Stephens. Its most-recent figures show a pre-tax loss of £22m on sales of £141m. The company and some of its stores was finally bought by Homebase.
  • The Yorkshire Linen Company, the home furnishings group with stores in Harrogate, Leeds, Huddersfield and Hull, went into administration in mid-June and ceased trading. The firms used a CVA in February 2019 for its 19 stores.
  • Realbuzz. Realbuzz is a specialist sportswear retailer focused on supporting runners with kit, advice and nutrition. In 2017 they announced Realbuzz would grow from six stores to 36, but in the second quarter of 2019 many shops were vacated and administrator notices placed there. Other parts of the group are unaffected as far as is known.
  • Rococo Chocolates, a manufacturer and retailer of high-end chocolates, with five stores in London, went into administration (May 2019), although the company continues to trade.
  • Solutions Inc, the Bournemouth-based chain of six stores selling Apple products, went into aministration in 2019. There were 53 staff. 
  • Skandium, the Swedish design-led retailer in Marylebone High Street and South Kensington went into administration in April 2019.
  • Debenhams, one of the largest and best-known department stores on the high street, went into pre-pack administration on 9 April 2019, with 165 department stores, more than 25,000 employees and thousands of concession staff. The company has experienced many changes in ownership in recent years (it was part of the Burton Group at one time) and is now controlled by its funders and creditors. A contested CVA was agreed in May 2019, involving the closure of 50 stores in total (starting with 22 in 2020) and rent reductions.
  • Select, a ‘value’ fashion retailer primarily serving the youth and younger female markets, went into administration. Select has around 2,000 employees and 180 stores, plus online sales in the UK and Western Europe. Its attempts since 2014 to migrate away from the ‘value’ end of fashion have come at a time when price has become of key importance to the sector. Select went through a CVA in 2018
  • Pretty Green, the fashion retailer owned by Liam Gallagher, went into administration in March. It had 12 outlets plus House-of-Fraser concessions. Pretty Green was unable to recover from the loss of £500,000 from the failure of the House of Fraser. 
  • The Bottle Shop, one of the major distributors and retailers of craft beer, went into administration in March. There are 12 full-time and 16 part-time staff, a large warehouse and several retail units. It raised a lot of money from by crowdfunding in 2017, but recently lost important contracts.
  • Office Outlet, the office supplies and stationery chain previously called Staples, went into administration in March with 94 stores and 1,170 employees. As Staples, it had gone through administration in 2015 after the CMA prevented it merging with Office Depot. Office Outlet shifted focus from the high street to becoming primarily a stationery and office products supermarket.
  • Superfi, a small chain of audio-visual retail stores, originally started in Nottingham in 1929 as ‘Eunice Radio’, went into administration in late February. Some stores reopened in May 2019.
  • Better Bathrooms, a distributor of bathroom suites, showers, fittings and accessories, went into administration and ceased trading at the beginning of March. It had 15 outlets. Its 2017 sales were £60m. All except ten of its 335 employees have been made redundant. Sales in y/e 2017 were £60mn.
  • L K Bennett, the upmarket fashion retailer, filed a notice of intended administration at the beginning of March. It has 41 outlets in the UK with 480 UK staff. There are also 52 stores abroad in the U.S., Russia and China.
  • Bennetts Department Store, Derby, originally opened in 1734, went into administration in 2019, although the Derby store has been saved. The Ashbourne (Derbyshire) store closed.
  • Hourstons, a Scottish department store based in Ayr, was closed on 7 February 2019 and iy went into liquidation. There were 81 job losses. The store was first opened in 1896.
  • tReds, a footwear chain with 21 stores and 165 employees, went into administration in January 2019.
  • Wine Direct and associate company JustInCases, both online wine suppliers, have suspended trade following the administration of their owner, Fermentation Ltd.
  • News from Germany: Kaufhof, a major upmarket department-store group is to cut 2,600 jobs.
  • Gerry Weber: International Ag (which operates 1,200 stores in 60 countries) is to go into administration. In the UK Gerry Weber has 19 branded, franchise or outlet stores and 217 stockists. The German subsidiary of Monsoon Accessorize is applying to go into administration under German insolvency law, affecting jobs in 30 stores there.
  • OddBins and Wine Cellars, the off-licence group with 100 stores (part of Walsall-based European Food Brokers, went into administration in January 2019. The wholesale division and 500 retail jobs are affected.
  • Patisserie Valerie, a much-loved chain of French-themed cafés, went into administration in January. Seventy-one loss-making stores and all department-store concessions in were closed immediately (900 staff losses). The remaining 122 stores continue to trade, although another tranche was closed two months later. There are 3,000 employees. This successful group had been worth £450mn, before evidence of large-scale fraud (up to £40m) and unauthorised loans of £9.1mn were discovered. A share issue of raised £15m plus £20m from the Company’s founder were insufficient to save the business.
  • Miss Shoes, a Norfolk-based online shoe retailer that started in 2007 went into administration in mid-January along with its associate company Fuel Your Fashion Online. The reasons given for company failure: prices, intense competition and high returns. There were 20 staff.
  • Chapelle Jewellery & Watches, founded in 1979, trading from 21 stores in retail parks and malls, its ecommerce arm, and two concessions, went into administration in January. There were 250 employees. Chapelle was owned by Hilco the turnround specialist.
  • Wild and Gorgeous, a childrenswear wholesaler and retailer with two outlets, and 15 UK stockists, 18 US stockists, and others in France, Germany and Italy went into administration in mid-January.
  • Hardy Amies, couturier and once the Queen’s dressmaker, went into administration for a second time at the beginning of 2019. There is an online store and a physical outlet in London.
  • Steamer Trading, the kitchen and accessories stores, went into administration early in January. Twenty-seven of its 38 stores were bought by Pro Cook, one by Divertimenti and ten will close, making about 120 people redundant. By mid-2019 half of the stores had been closed.

What’s Included and Excluded?

We have published these lists of medium and large UK retailers that have gone bust (ie entered ‘administration’ to seek protection from creditors or gone into liquidation) for more than 17 years.

Business failure can often be a temporary inconvenience. We are not suggesting that the businesses listed here no longer survive, but they have gone through the legal process of insolvency known as administration. This listing is based on research carried out at the time based on our understanding of their business affairs. More recent information may well change some of the assumptions or conclusions. Some of these firms entered administration and then were closed down. Others have had a second life as ecommerce-only businesses with no or few physical stores. Most of the large firms came out of administration and are still trading. Some have been sold, but changed their name. Others exist as departments or concessions in larger stores. The presence of any business in this listing must not be taken to imply that it no longer exists, its name is no longer used or that such business, if still trading, is impaired in anyway.  

  • The references are only to the retail sector. We exclude restaurants, fast food, car dealers, bookmakers and other service industries from this list, although we may add an occasional note about a non-retail business if it is significant or amusing.
  • This page deals with UK retail only, although comments may be made about activities in other countries from time to time.
  • A ‘medium-sized’ retailer typically has five or more stores or more than 80 staff, though we will include smaller retailers of local/regional significant. A large retailer has 20 or more stores.
  • Our summary of the major failures since 2008 (the year of the great recession) is attached to this webpage
  • Who’s Gone Bust? lists only firms that have gone into administration. We do not list takeovers, cutbacks, or store closures here unless they involve going into administration.
  • A 'Company Voluntary Arrangement' (or CVA) is a formal insolvency process enabling a company to agree with its creditors a strategy for repaying part of its debts, lessening the burden of high rents and other charges or closing stores that become mandatory for all unsecured creditors if agreed by 75% of creditors by value. The process has been controversial, but can protect the Company from a winding-up petition and give it a fair chance of survival, while the alternative may be administration. It is a legal process. Further information can be obtained from the KSA Group (see https://www.companyrescue.co.uk/guides-knowledge/what-is/what-is-a-cva-or-company-voluntary-arrangement/).  
  • As well as Who's Gone Bust? we publish the full picture of retail store closures and employee redundancies resulting from all types of company reorganisation, rationalisation, takeovers, Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) and closures caused by company administration on a separate webpage here – The Crisis in Retailing: Closures and Job Losses

Previous Years’ Archive Pre-2019

This listing relates to business failures occurring in 2019. We keep a record of previous years and these can be downloaded as PDFs as follows (These documents open in a new window)

Previous Years’ Archive Pre-2019

This listing relates to business failures occurring in 2019. We keep a record of previous years and these can be downloaded as PDFs as follows (These documents open in a new window)

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