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 looks 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.
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.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
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.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer 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.
Outstanding 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. Its assets including stock and brand names Sole and Soletrader were purchased by its owner, the Twinmar Group, and are now invested in a new subsidiary, Twinmar London.
Most of the company's stores opened for trading in July, but eight shops have been closed. Soletrader's website is a separate entity and is 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 towards the end of June to enable the company to restructure and improve cash flow. The company continues to trade and outstanding orders will be met.
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