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High street crisis deepens as 3,150 staff lose jobs in a week | Business

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Mothercare and Links of London will disappear from UK high streets this week as 94 stores close their doors for good, resulting in 3,150 job losses.

All 79 Mothercare shops and 15 Links of London will have shut by Sunday night, after both companies collapsed into administration before Christmas.

The latest wave of closures, with 2,800 jobs lost at Mothercare and 350 at Links, comes after a tough festive period for high street retailers when subdued spending combined with the shift to online.

High street closures in 2019

Thousands of high street jobs have been lost this year as a result of high profile retail administrations and thousands more are at risk as Mothercare, Debenhams and Forever 21 prepare for closures. Here are some of the key industry names that have been affected.

Mothercare: Has 79 stores and 2,500 UK retail staff as its British arm prepares to go into administration.

Regis/Supercuts: Had 220 salons and 1,200 staff when it went into administration in October.

Bonmarché: Had 318 stores and 2,887 employees when it went into administration in October. It is still trading as it seeks a buyer.

Watt Brothers: The Scottish department chain had 11 stores and 306 employees when it went into administration in October. All the stores closed and the majority of jobs have gone.

Links of London: With 35 stores and 350 staff, the jewellery chain went into administration on 8 October but its sites are still trading.

Forever 21: Had three stores and about 290 employees in the UK when it went into administration in September. Stores are staying open in order to clear stock.

Albemarle & Bond: Suddenly shut all its 116 stores in September with the loss of about 400 jobs, even though it did not call in administrators. It sold its pledge books to rival H&T in September.

Karen Millen and Coast: Had 32 stores and 177 concessions, employing 1,100 people, when it went into administration in August. All sites were closed and the vast majority of staff made redundant after the brands were bought out by online specialist Boohoo.com.

Jack Wills: Had about 100 stores and 1,700 staff in the UK when went into administration in August. Bought by Sports Direct and 98 stores are still trading in the UK and Ireland.

Spudulike: Closed all 37 stores with the loss of about 300 jobs when it went into administration in August.

Bathstore: Had 132 stores and 529 staff when it went into administration in June. Homebase bought 44 stores saving 154 jobs and the brand now trades from 28 stores.

Select: Had 180 stores and 2,000 employees when the fashion retailer went into administration in May. In June administrators at advisory firm Quantuma carried out a CVA closing 11 stores with the loss of about 200 jobs.

Debenhams: Had 166 department stores and more than 25,000 employees when went into administration in April. No store closed immediately and the chain is now owned by its lenders but two will close before Christmas and another 20 in January when the group completes a rescue restructure expected to result in the loss of 1,200 jobs.

Pretty Green: Had 12 stores and about 170 employees when Liam Gallagher’s fashion outlet went into administration in March. All but one store and 33 concessions closed with 100 jobs lost but 67 saved as the brand was bought by JD Sports in April.

Office Outlet: All 94 stores have closed with the loss of 1,170 jobs after the stationery retailer went into administration in March.

LK Bennett: Had 41 stores and 500 employees when it went into administration in March. The brand was bought by its Chinese franchise partner, Rebecca Feng, saving 21 stores, all the group’s concessions and 325 jobs. But more than 100 jobs lost with the closure of 15 stores.

Patisserie Valerie: Had 200 cafes employing nearly 3,000 people when an accounting scandal prompted the chain to call in administrators in January. About 70 of the group’s 200 stores closed immediately with the loss of 900 jobs. About 2,000 jobs were saved when about 100 Patisserie Valerie cafes were rescued by Causeway Capital, more than 20 of which have since closed. 21 Philpotts sandwich shops were bought by AF Blakemore & Son. and four Baker & Spice cafes a were bought by the Department of Coffee & Social Affairs. Sarah Butler

Three HMV stores are also closing this month – Bury St Edmunds, Nuneaton and Fopp in Glasgow’s Byres Road – while a further 10 stores are likely to be axed if new deals with landlords are not secured, the music specialist has confirmed. The company is also relocating in Lincoln and Plymouth, with new stores opening in both cities at the start of February.

Further closures are expected this year as the futures of the fashion chain Bonmarché, department store group Beales and camera retailer Jessops hang in the balance.

Beales, which has 22 outlets, said before Christmas it had appointed the advisory firm KPMG to look at money-raising options, including a sale. It is widely expected to have to restructure as investors are not keen to enter the troubled department store market in the UK.

This weekend will also include the shuttering of the first six closures of the 19 Debenhams’ stores closing this month, which will result in 660 jobs losses over the next two weeks. Debenhams is undergoing a rescue restructure that could result in 50 stores closing by the end of 2021.

Department stores are suffering under the burden of large expensive properties with long leases, which are difficult to adapt to swiftly changing times. Their traditional selling point as the home of multiple brands has also been challenged by the ease of buying and comparing such goods online.

Debenhams is caught in the middle of a market increasingly dividing between discounters, such as Primark, and more deluxe players such as Joules, White Stuff or designer labels.

Greg Lawless, a retail analyst at the stockbroker Shore Capital, said: “There is a seismic structural shift going on in the industry. The market is polarising and those that are caught in the middle need to fundamentally transform their businesses to survive in the 2020s.”

He predicts more store closures as mid-market retailers deal with the legacy of large expensive stores and further cost increases, particularly the rise in the legal minimum wage planned for April.

House of Fraser is expected to close more stores this year including Grimsby and Milton Keynes, and the department store’s Wolverhampton outlet is scheduled to relocate. The group has already closed seven of the original 59 outlets taken on by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct group in August 2018.

Most retailers will report their Christmas trading figures over the next few weeks but the evidence so far is that it was tough for grocers and other retailers on the high street.

Next said last week that a chilly November bolstered sales of coats and knitwear, helping it achieve sales growth well ahead of forecasts. But the high street bellwether’s performance was heavily reliant on its slick online business, which now sells numerous other brands alongside Next items.



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