Office urgently seeks new owner

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Office put up for sale as coronavirus pandemic affects trading
Office has 130 stores in the UK and Europe
// Office put up for sale as Covid-19 pandemic bites into trading performance
// South African parent company Truworths hires Alvarez & Marsal to run accelerated sale of the shoe retailer
// It becomes the latest retailer to seek new funding amid the coronavirus crisis

The parent company of footwear retailer Office is reportedly seeking a new owner urgently, making it the latest retailer to seek new funding amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Sky News, South Africa-based Truworths International hired Alvarez & Marsal to run an accelerated sale process of Office, which trades from 130 stores across the UK, Germany and Ireland.

While the prospects for a solvent sale of the retailer were still unclear, information sent to potential bidders reportedly said a sale could be completed “within a short time-frame”.


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The news comes several months after Truwoths had considered launching a CVA for Office after it experienced a period a decline due to a tough retail market in the UK.

Instead, it concluded an agreement to refinance the funding for footwear chain and confirmed that close loss-making store closures would go ahead once their leases expired.

In addition, in November last year Office chief executive Lorenzo Moretti exited the retailer after just one year in the role and chief operating officer Kerry van der Merwe was appointed as interim managing director.

The £250 million Office acquisition in December 2015 was Truworths’ first foray into Europe as the company looked to diversify from its home market in South Africa.

Office also wouldn’t be the first retailer showing signs of distress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Advisers from Alvarez & Marsal are also running a similar accelerated sale process for Cath Kidston, which filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators nearly a fortnight ago.

Laura Ashley was the first coronavirus-linked high street casualty last month after its administration saw it cut 268 jobs and shut 70 stores.

Last week, department store chain Debenhams officially filed for administration, making it the second time within a year that it had taken this kind of insolvency process.

Debenhams said the decision to enter administration was aimed at protecting the business from the threat of legal action from creditors, which could risk pushing the retailer into liquidation while its 142 UK stores remain closed due to the government-mandated lockdown.

And just yesterday, news emerged that fashion retailers Oasis and Warehouse were preparing for administration, placing 2300 jobs at risk.

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