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21 axed as stores close

A TOTAL of 21 full-time jobs have been lost at Bestseller Retail Ireland Ltd, the company behind the fashion chains Vero Moda and Jack Jones.

The group has closed 11 of its stores "due to continued adverse trading conditions". The move follows the closure of 14 stores in February, when the firm went into interim examinership.

The company, a subsidiary of Danish fashion giant Bestseller, said "the combined pressures of continued negative trading conditions and the high cost of renting premises" had forced it to close another 10 of its stores in the Republic, as well as its Vero Moda store in Belfast.

Two of the original 14 stores to have closed -- the Vero Moda and Jack Jones outlets in Athlone Town Centre -- have since reopened following the renegotiation of rents with the landlords.

Bestseller Retail Ireland's general manager Lucy O'Mahoney said that the biggest challenge facing the group was particularly high rents.

"In tandem with the fall in customer footfall and sales, this has restricted our cashflow and our ability to trade profitably, and has led us to our present position where we have had to repeatedly restructure the business for the sake of survival," Ms O'Mahoney said.

A total of 21 full-time staff and 37 part-time staff have lost their jobs. Out of its original tally of 36 stores in the Republic, 14 remain open.

Bestseller has petitioned the High Court for permission to repudiate a number of lease agreements relating to its worst performing stores.