BRITAIN’S high streets suffered another loss yesterday as menswear chain Austin Reed went into administration less than 24 hours after the public downfall of BHS.
The latest collapse threatens nearly 1,200 people’s livelihoods across the retailer’s 150 stores and concessions.
Austin Reed’s woes were blamed on cashflow difficulties and the inability to attract younger shoppers. AlixPartners, the business advisory firm administrating Austin Reed, is said to be seeking a rescue deal for the business, with Jaeger’s owner Better Capital as one of the rumoured interested buyers.
Better Capital was the owner of City Link couriers, which filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
At Usdaw’s annual delegate meeting in Blackpool, general secretary John Hannett said: “The staff at Austin Reed will be shocked by this announcement after the company changed hands only a week ago. We will be providing the support, advice and representation our members require at this difficult and worrying time.
“The government has promised me a meeting about the future of retail and how we can work together to help save the high street. I look forward to that happening very soon, because [retail] deserves more attention and support from the government.”
AlixPartners joint administrator Peter Saville said: “Austin Reed is a well-regarded and iconic brand and therefore we are confident that it is an attractive proposition for a range of potential buyers. As such, we expect and welcome contact from interested third parties.”
Company accounts revealed losses of up to £5.4 million in the year ending January 31 2015, with sales having dropped 8 per cent from the previous year.
The 116-year-old retailer, whose customers reportedly include IMF boss Christine Lagarde, also owns clothing brands Viyella and Country Casuals.