Please use the links below to navigate to each section of Who's Gone Bust in retail.
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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'.
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.  '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.
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.
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: email@example.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 Store, the 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
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.
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.
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)
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)