Wednesday, January 27, 2016

News: Rotherham Blue Inc store closes

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The Parkgate branch of Blue Inc has closed after the fashion retailer underwent a restructure that resulted in 580 jobs being lost and around 70 stores closing down.

Trading since 1912 and originating from London's East End, Blue Inc pushed on through the economic downturn, snapping up High Street stores from struggling retailers including D2, Officer's Club and republic in recent years. It built up to operate from 230 stores in the UK and five stores overseas, under two retail fascias: Blue Inc and Officers Club.

Steven Cohen acquired the company in 2006 and investors including former boss of Marks & Spencer, Sir Stuart Rose and The Reuben Brothers have backed the company to support its growth.

The Rotherham store was the company's first in a retail park location when it was announced it was coming to the popular Parkgate retail park in 2013.

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Insolvency firm, Leonard Curtis secured the future of 1,500 employees at A Levy & Son, which trades as Blue Inc and Officers Club, by advising on a restructuring process.

Neil Bennett and Alex Cadwallader of Leonard Curtis were appointed joint administrators on January 19 and the firm offloaded a number of leases. Neil Bennett, a director at Leonard Curtis, said that as a result of its intervention, Blue Inc "has protected the growth of the business by securing a more focused portfolio of stores."

Closing down signs have gone up at nearby shoe retailer, Brantano, as it continues to trade from the adjacent Parkgate unit whilst it is in administration. Tony Barrell, Mike Jervis and Rob Hunt of PwC were appointed as joint administrators of Brantano (UK) Limited on January 22.

The value retailer operates 140 stores and 60 concessions across the UK and employs around 2,000 staff. It was acquired by Alteri Investors in October 2015 but has experienced difficult trading conditions.

Tony Barrell, lead administrator at PwC, said: "The continuing challenging conditions for "bricks and mortar" retail stores are well documented. Like many others, Brantano has been hit hard by the change in consumers' shopping habits and the evolution of the UK retail environment.

"The administrators are continuing to trade the businesses as normal whilst we assess the trading strategy over the coming days and weeks. Staff will be paid their arrears of wages and salaries, and will continue to be paid for their work during the Administration."

Dixons Carphone announced this week that it plans to reduce store numbers by 134 as it merges PC World and Currys stores to include a Carphone Warehouse in store. This has already taken place at the Parkgate outlet.

Blue Inc website
Brantano website
Parkgate website

Images: Tom Austen

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