There’s no denying the unfortunate fact that 2019 has been yet another challenging year for UK retail, partly due to a high number of businesses falling into administration.
According to auditing giant KPMG, 44 retail businesses entered administration in just the six months to September, including a number of high street stalwarts.
Broadly speaking, administrations are a process that can be subdivided into two categories: trading administrations, as seen with BHS in 2016, and pre-pack administrations – as seen today with Mamas & Papas.
The insolvency process is different to a CVA, which is what Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group retail empire opted for over summer. The general rule of thumb is that business would opt for a CVA when the only other likely alternative is to enter administration.
- Administrations: What are they and how do they work?
- CVAs: What are they? Do they work? Why are we seeing so many?
Meanwhile, there has also been raft of retailers forced into shutting shops and announcing major redundancies to cope with the changing retail landscape
Marks & Spencer is in the midst of plans to close 100 stores to cut costs, while fellow retail giant Tesco announced plans to cut 4500 jobs in August.
Elsewhere, Boots confirmed in June that it will close 200 stores in the UK in another blow for the high street.
The Retail Gazette has compiled a list of all the main retailers that have have fallen into administration in 2019 – so far:
Greenwoods – January 2
The Yorkshire-based menswear retailer collapsed less than 18 months after it was first rescued from administration, which was founded 158 years ago. It was the first victim of the year.
Mahabis – January 2
Specialist online footwear retailer also Mahabis fell into administration at the very beginning of the year. It called in administrators KPMG on December 27 but made the announcement in the new year.
The co-founder of Simba Sleep, James Cox, quicklystepped in to buy Mahabis out of administration.
Hardy Armies – January 10
The Savile Row retailer, best known for being a dressmaker for the Queen, went into administration for the second time in just over a decade.
Oddbins – February 1
The wine specialist closed a raft of stores after it fell into administration in February, the second time it had collapsed in around eight years.
Bennetts – February 12
The Derbyshire-based department store, dubbed the oldest department store in the world, collapsed into administration after being hit by weakening consumer confidence, online competition and growing costs.
A new buyer stepped in to rescue Bennetts from administration in April, keeping its flagship Derby store open but closing down the Ashbourne branch.
Better Bathroom – March 1
More than 300 jobs were lost after the UK’s largest independent bathroom retailer, Better Bathrooms, called in administrators and shut down all 13 of its stores.
Since buying Better Bathrooms out of administration, Buy it Direct has been running it as an online business.
LK Bennett – March 7
LK Bennett’s collapse into administration was perhaps the first high-profile retail casualty of the year. A month later, 21 UK stores were earmarked for closure after LK Bennett was bought out of administration by Chinese-based company Byland UK. The store closures resulted in 110 job losses.
Office Outlet – March 19
The former stationery chain, formerly known as Staples, fell into administration after suffering from weak demand for stationery supplies and suppliers cutting the credit terms on which it traded.
Within a few weeks, administrators Deloitte confirmed that 16 stores would shut down, resulting in 161 job cuts.
Pretty Green – April 1
Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green collapsed into administration after weeks of speculation, after it took hit from House of Fraser’s administration in August last year.
It was reportedly left around £500,000 out of pocket from House of Fraser’s collapse, becoming one of hundreds of suppliers and concessions to lose money.
Within days, the retailer was bought out of administration by JD Sports in an undisclosed deal.
Debenhams – April 9
Debenahams was taken over by a consortium of lenders, known as Celine, after the department store group fell into administration.
The pre-pack deal meant all of Debenhams’ previous shareholders – including Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, which had a near-30 per cent stake in the department store – lost their equity.
Soon after Celine took control and removed the department store from the stock market, it launched a CVA to speed up the store closure programme it had first announced in late 2018.
Select – May 10
Select fell into administration in May, placing 1800 jobs at risk.
It was the second time the retailer had fallen into administration, after it underwent a CVA process in April last year.
Administrators then launched a CVA in a last ditch attempt to save the womenswear retailer. This was approved by creditors in June.
Rococo – May 31
Luxury chocolate retailer Rococo fell into administration and insolvency specialists from BDO were appointed to take care of the procedure.
Karen Millen & Coast – August 6
Karen Millen, which at the time also owned Coast, was put up for sale by its Icelandic owners in June.
By August, both retail brands were placed into administration and then immediately sold to Boohoo in a pre-pack administration deal.
The deal entailed Boohoo acquiring Karen Millen & Coast’s online business and assets. This meant Karen Millen’s stores shut down, resulting in 1100 job losses.
House of Fraser extended its administration for a further 12 months, weeks after owner Sports Direct labelled its problems as “nothing short of terminal in nature”.
Forever 21 – September 30
Forever 21 closed 350 stores globally after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US.
The fast fashion retailer, which has just a few stores in the UK, filed for bankruptcy thanks to the growth in online retailers such as Amazon.
Forever 21 confirmed its UK store closures a month later.
Bennetts falls into administration again – October 4
Bennetts, the Derby retailer regarded as the world’s oldest department store, had been saved again after a successful last-ditch rescue attempt by a local businessman.
Administrators at Bridgewood Financial Solutions confirmed the sale after taking back control of the 285-year-old department store in August.
French Sole owner London Sole had only operated Bennetts since April, when it was first bought out of administration.
Links of London – October 9
When Links of London collapsed into administration, it placed 350 jobs at risk.
The retailer’s administrators Deloitte have appointed GCW as property advisers for the jewellery retailer’s portfolio.
Links of London was owned by Greek retailer Folli Follie, which was embroiled in a major accounting scandal.
Bonmarche – October 18
Bonmarche collapsed into administration, putting almost 2900 jobs at risk, shortly after retail tycoon Philip Day gained majority control of the retailer.
It is reportedly seeking to close 100 of its 318 stores in the UK as it continues to explore all options for the future.
The retailer is in talks with prospective buyers while 100 stores are earmarked for possible closure if the business cannot be sold, Drapers reported.
It is the second time Bonmarche has fallen into administration in seven years, after it was previously bought in a rescue deal by private equity firm Sun European Partners in 2012.
Bonmarche was later floated on the London stock exchange before Philip Day, the retail tycoon owner of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, purchased a majority stake earlier this year through his investment company Spectre Holdings.
A large number of shareholders then sold their stakes to Day, giving him a 95 per cent ownership in the retailer.
Watt Brothers – October 18
When Watt Brothers filed for administration, it resulted in the immediate redundancy of over 200 jobs after failing to secure new investments.
The Scottish retailer appointed Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden of KPMG as joint administrators to oversee the sale of the business.
Mothercare – November 6
Around 2800 jobs are at risk of being cut after Mothercare officially appointed administrators for its UK operations and business services arm.
This will likely lead to the closure of all 79 of its UK stores, and places almost 2800 staff at risk of losing their jobs.
Mothercare stressed that its overseas operations, which comprises more than 1000 stores in 40 countries, would continue to trade as normal as the administration would not include it.
The retailer’s collapse into administration came 18 months after it launched a major CVA, which led to the closure of 55 stores.
Mamas & Papas – November 8
Mamas & Papas became the second UK maternity chain this week to call in administrators – doing so in the same week as main rival Mothercare.
However, unlike its rival, a pre-pack administration for Mamas & Papas has already been confirmed and as a result six unprofitable stores are set to close immediately, resulting in 73 job cuts.