// Office owner Truworths International is negotiating fresh funding to secure the unit’s viability
// Truworths International said the economic crisis caused by the pandemic has resulted in “diminished” revenue
// Truworths International, a South African retail group, bought a majority stake in Office in 2015
Office owner Truworths International is negotiating fresh funding for the British footwear retailer as part of measures to secure the unit’s viability.
The group, which sells clothes, jewellery and homeware, as well as shoes, has seen its trading affected by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Truworths International said the economic crisis caused by the pandemic has resulted in “diminished” revenue, reduced collections and an increase in the doubtful debt provision in respect of the Truworths Africa debtors’ book.
To secure Office’s “long-term viability,” the group said it was negotiating funds as well as implementing redundancies and renegotiating store leases.
Truworths International, a South African retail group, bought a majority stake in Office in 2015, an has been compounded by uncertainty over Brexit and the collapse of department store House of Fraser, where Office had several concessions.
In August, Truworths International warned that the company could close up to 15 of Office’s roughly 139 stores in the next two years, with possibly more to follow, and also close three concessions.
Truworths International said on Wednesday that group retail sales had declined by 9.4 per cent to 16.9 billion rand (£809.8 million) in the 52 weeks ended June 28.
Retail sales for Office fell by 11.3 per cent in local currency, it said.
In May, Frasers Group boss Mike Ashley and JD Sports’ executive chairman Peter Cowgill were reportedly in a race to acquire Office, just days after they locked horns over a controversial order for JD Sports to sell Footasylum.
Truworths International had hired Alvarez & Marsal in April to run an accelerated sale process of Office.
Office trades from 130 stores in the UK and Europe, and last changed hands in a £250 million deal in 2015.