Retail layoffs to soar as six chains falter

MORE than 11,800 retail jobs and 870 high street shops may be lost in coming weeks after six struggling high street names were put up for sale or into administration in December.

Retail analysts warned of a potential wave of consolidation in the sector and grim trading updates this month as poor Christmas trading put weaker chains out of business.

Tobar Group, the owner of gift retailer Hawkin’s Bazaar, became the latest casualty of the downturn in consumer spending after calling in administrator Zolfo Cooper on 30 December. Zolfo Cooper partner Peter Saville cited the “exceptionally challenging trading conditions of late” for the bankruptcy, which will affect its 65 shops and 380 staff.

It joins Past Times, which is owned by Epic Private Equity and brought in KPMG to “assist with a review of its strategic options” after poor Christmas sales. A KPMG spokesperson said the chain’s options included “marketing the company and its business for sale”, putting up to 1,000 staff at risk.

The news came as lingerie specialist La Senza said it would close 81 of its 168 shops, including in High Street Kensington and St Pancras, as it also took advice from KPMG to stay afloat.

Fashion retailer D2 Jeans saw 19 of its 47 shops closed and 200 staff made redundant by its administrator BDO, while outdoor clothing chain Blacks – which also owns Milletts and has 306 stores – has admitted it is on the brink of failure. Budget shoe chain Barratts Priceless was also placed in administration in December, for the second time. The firm has 191 shops.

● The six chains employ about 11,820 staff and run 877 outlets across the UK

● Barratts Priceless has made 1,780 of its 3,840 staff redundant, while D2 Jeans laid off about 200 after going into administration