Monday 18 June 2018

House of Fraser joins turmoil on the high street – administrations and closures

Multiple retailers have fallen into administration or been forced to announce they are closing stores since the start of the year.

Shoppers on Winchester High Street.
Shoppers on Winchester High Street.

By Josie Clarke, Press Association Consumer Affairs Correspondent

House of Fraser’s move to shut down more than half of its stores comes amid turmoil on the high street, with multiple retailers falling into administration or announcing restructuring plans since the start of the year.

– Marks & Spencer: Late last month, the high street stalwart reported a 62.1% fall in pre-tax profit to £66.8 million in the year to March 31 as it was dragged down by £321.1 million in costs linked to store closures.

The results came a day after M&S said it will shut more than 100 outlets by 2022 as it accelerates a transformation programme that will see thousands of jobs put at risk.

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A Marks and Spencer store (PA)

– Toys R Us: The toy chain went into administration on the last day of February after failing to find a third-party buyer. In February, HMRC sought to recover £15 million in unpaid VAT and this finally tipped the company into administration.

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A Maplin store in Liverpool (PA)

– Maplin: One of the UK’s biggest electronics retailers collapsed into administration on the same day as Toys R Us after talks with buyers failed to secure a sale. The business faced the slump in the pound after the Brexit vote, weak consumer confidence and a withdrawal of credit insurance.

– Conviviality Retailing: The major drinks and off-licence supplier that owns Wine Rack and Bargain Booze went into administration in early April. The company had grown too quickly by merger, there were a series of profit warnings and a £30 million tax bill for which Conviviality was forced to ask for extra funds from investors – who refused.

– Warren Evans: The bed, mattress and furniture retailers in London and the South East went into administration one week after putting itself up for sale. The retailer, known for its ethical stance, had been losing money for some time under the pressure of rising costs and shrinking customer spending.

– Calvetron: The owner of Jacques Vert, Windsmoor, Dash and Eastex fashion brands that ran about 300 UK concessions in stores including Debenhams and House of Fraser, went into administration at the start of May. Bosses said inflation and wage freezes had been a driving force behind decreased spending.

– Juice Corporation: The firm behind fashion brand Joe Bloggs and the retailer that designed the wedding dress for Diana, Princess of Wales, collapsed into administration in January. Although the group made profits, it had failed to make inroads into the fashion market.

– Mothercare: The ailing baby goods and maternity retailer has proposed to close 50 stores as part of a planned turnaround for the company. It said losses were driven by the costs of 17 store closures last year, onerous leases and a head office restructure which resulted in 190 job cuts.

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General view of a Mothercare store in Basingstoke, Hampshire (PA)

– Carpetright: The embattled flooring firm is embarking on a store closure programme and has begun efforts to raise £60 million in emergency funding as it pushes through a restructuring after announcing it was expecting to book a full-year underlying pre-tax loss of between £7 million and £9 million.

– Carluccio’s: The upmarket deli chain has unveiled a restructuring plan that will likely lead to 34 restaurant closures as it cited a combination of a gradual decline in consumer spending and increasing competition, coupled with the rising costs of labour, raw materials, rent and business rates.

Other restaurants that have undertaken company voluntary arrangements so far this year include Byron, Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian.

– New Look: The clothing chain announced earlier this year that it would close 60 UK stores and cut 1,000 jobs as part of a financial restructuring.

– Poundworld: The discount chain said it was planning to close about 100 stores, putting about 1,500 jobs at risk, as it struggled to absorb rising costs.

Press Association

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