340 jobs at risk as Bench falls into administration

bench administration

Bench is the latest to fall victim to the doom and gloom plaguing the UK high street this year after filing for administration.

The fashion retailer, founded in Manchester in 1989, has filed an application to appoint administrators, 176 jobs at risk in its UK operations and an additional 170 jobs at risk in its German operations.

However, it is understood that Bench’s 20 UK stores and 15 German stores will remain open and operate as usual in the immediate future and no staff cuts have been announced yet.

“We have been provided with further capital by our owner on several occasions to invest in new stores and employees, but we weren’t able to get the company onto a sustainable economic footing,” Bench chief executive Barry Knight said.

“We faced a lot of headwind due to the devaluation of the British pound, the competitiveness and the declining market in our fashion segment.

“Ultimately, it was not possible for us to generate further liquidity for the company, on either an equity or on a debt basis. As a result, we have no alternative but to go into administration.

“Our task now, together with the administrator, is to achieve the best possible outcome in this situation. Despite the company’s current challenges, we remain confident that the Bench brand can have a bright future.”

Click here to sign up to Retail Gazette‘s free daily email newsletter


  1. It’s a deep rooted decline. Massive overspending for many years, and then a poor strategy of opening discount stores, with a very discount look, in unfashionable areas in an attempt to salvage things.

  2. Here are the real reasons why its gone into administration;

    1. The over saturation of the market with fast fashion in the ilk of Henleys and Gio-goi around 2005-2010 completely damaged the brands integrity and cheapened the image which it never fully recovered from.
    2. Management could never decide on the true identity of the brand. Was it Urban? Was it Skate? Was it Technical?
    The core values of the brand where mostly overlooked and would change from season to season.
    3. Sales agents had way too much influence on the design of the ranges, Which in-turn left the staff without ownership and dis-engaged from the collections. Every time the designers would try to push the boundaries or do something new or interesting it would be rejected in favour of carryovers. This happened for years. So inevitably there was little progression and the brand began to look dated.
    4. Way too many staff in the head office in Manchester and Munich.
    5. Extravagant parties and lots of spending on lookbooks, photoshoots, research trips, hotels, samples. Money could definitely of been saved. A lot!
    6. The move to Germany was an absolute disaster. This killed the company dead. The offer to move to Munich was inplace for most workers but literally only a handful of people decided to go resulting in about 90% of the workforce in head office being made redundant. This decimation of skills, brand history, company know-how and sense of team spirit was the real nail in the coffin. My small team had nearly ninety years plus of experience at Bench which had almost been wiped out overnight.
    7. Unfortunately the workforce was damaged. Most senior members of the team had been let go and the replacement staff were not of the same experience or skill.
    8. The very large and very expensive new head office in Munich was a financial drain.
    9. New management broke off a high number of historical suppliers, good quality suppliers in favour of new, unused and ultimately unreliable ones. There was no going back to the old suppliers as the damage to the relationships had been done. This made quality go down and costs go up.
    10. Nobody made concessions for brexit and they continued to trade with the incorrect exchange rate for many months. This would not of happened if the experienced staff had been replaced like for like.
    11. There was a profitable part of the business thought. The outlets. This made significant profit which subsidised mainline for many years. This was self sufficient and could of easily of been broken off and been a separate company. But bizarrely this was closed down. So it makes perfect sense that six months later the whole business has gone into administration. Management was warned about this.

    The end. Literally.

  3. I have a credit note worth 200€ From a bench store in Berlin. Now all the stores are closed and my money is lost. How do i get it back?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here