Administrators for La Senza yesterday announced that they were closing 84 of the lingerie specialist stores and 18 of its concessions with immediate effect, but international franchise operator Alshaya has purchased the remaining 60 outlets in the retailer‘s portfolio.
Shutting more than half of its store network has resulted in the loss of around 1,300 members of staff, but the pre-pack administration deal overseen by business advisory firm KPMG means approximately 1,100 further jobs have been saved.
Alshaya, which is based in Kuwait and owns stakes in a number of British retailers such as Next, Mothercare and Debenhams, has acquired exclusive franchise rights for La Senza and intends to preserve the brand‘s presence on UK high streets.
It comes after the underwear trader was one of four major retailers to file for administration during the recent Christmas period, after poor sales and low consumer sentiment combined to make trading in their existing format unsustainable.
Richard Fleming, joint administrator and UK Head of Restructuring at KPMG, commented: “We are delighted that we have been able to rescue part of La Senza UK and such a large number of jobs, given the negative economic pressures faced by retailers in the UK.
“Alshaya is a leading international retail operator with long standing links with the UK as the international franchise partner of a string of high street brands.”
Mohammed Alshaya, Executive Chairman of Alshaya Group in Kuwait, was “delighted” at being able to save more than 1,000 UK retail jobs, and was keen to express how the deal has strengthened his company‘s links with Great Britain.
“This is a strategic investment for us and a positive addition to our extensive international retail portfolio,” he added.
“This is the first step in a long-term commitment to developing the La Senza UK business, which we believe has great potential.”
Retail Gazette understands that a number of La Senza employees who worked at the stores which closed down were told to vacate the premises immediately, with some not even given a chance to pick up their belongings.
Former La Senza owner Theo Paphitis, who currently runs new knickers and nightwear retailer Boux Avenue, admitted to feelings of sadness at the demise of his former business.
Commenting on Twitter last night, the star of BBC show Dragons‘ Den said: “I would like to say good evening but some how it doesn‘t feel right with so many job loses sic with @LaSenzaUK going into Admin!”
Paphitis sold the retail chain to private equity group Lion Capital in 2006.