Four UK retailers call in administrators during the week of Christmas

Monday, December 29, 2008

Four UK retailers The Officers Club, Whittard of Chelsea, Zavvi and Adams Childrenswear have called in administrators during the Christmas week in 2008.

On Tuesday, December 23, the menswear retailer The Officers Club's administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers decided to close 32 of the 150 stores immediately. PricewaterhouseCoopers also announced that TimeC 1215 limited had bought 118 of the stores for an undisclosed fee. TimeC 1215 is backed by David Charlton, chief executive of The Officers Club. This deal saves around 900 jobs. The Officers Club began in the early 1990s in Sunderland and has headquarters at Cramlington, Northumberland.

Also on December 23 an international retailer of coffee, tea and various other hot beverages, Whittard of Chelsea, was placed into administration with Ernst & Young. Its owners were the Icelandic investment company Baugur, who were hit by turmoil after Iceland's banking crisis. Ernst & Young stated that the company was then sold for an undisclosed sum to EPIC private equity partners. Whittard of Chelsea was founded in 1886 by Walter Whittard, a merchant from London, and now has some 130 retail stores. The deal saves around 950 jobs.

Zavvi on Northumberland Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

On Christmas Eve, December 24, the UK's largest independent entertainment retailer, Zavvi, went into administration due the loss of its supplier and not being able to pay its debts. Until 2007 Zavvi had been a part of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Megastores, but became independent due to a management buyout. Zavvi's supplier had been Entertainment UK (EUK), which had entered administration itself, along with other parts of its parent company Woolworths Group, in November 2008. The companies within "Zavvi UK", which is in administration, are Zavvi Group Limited, Zavvi Retail Limited, Piccadilly Entertainment Stores Limited, VR Service Limited, Ablegrand Limited and Ablegrand 2 Limited. Tom Jack, Simon Allport and Alan Hudson of Ernst & Young LLP have been appointed joint administrators, and Zavvi will continue to trade as a buyer is found. Ernst & Young said Zavvi Guernsey will be liquidated, while Zavvi Ireland was not subject to any formal insolvency proceedings. At the time of administration Zavvi had 114 stores in the UK and 11 in Ireland, where they employed a total of 3,415 staff. All stores opened as normal on Boxing Day, 26 December, for the normal post Christmas sale.

During the weekend of Sunday 28 December the 75 year old children's clothes retailer, Adams Childrenswear called in administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers. Adams had previously been placed in administration with PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2006, but was rescued by Northern Irish businessman John Shannon in February 2007. A large rebranding followed in 2008, after 42 stores were closed. Adams has outlets worldwide in places such as Saudi Arabia, and also makes clothing under the Mini Mode brand for Boots. At the time of the 2008 administration there were 260 stores in the UK and 116 outlets overseas, employing around 2000 people. Adams is reported to owe around £20 million to Mr Shannon and £10 million to Burdale.