Up to 2,500 jobs have been safeguarded at Clintons after the greetings card chain was sold back to its existing owners as part of a rescue deal.
As first reported by Sky News, the UK’s second-biggest independent greeting cards retailer went into administration and was then immediately sold to Esquire Retail – a new firm set up and controlled by the Weiss family, which has owned Clintons for seven years.
Administrators KPMG said the so-called pre-pack administration will safeguard jobs and ensure Clintons’ 334 stores can continue to trade throughout the crucial Christmas season.
It comes after several months of talks in which Clintons explored a sale and then negotiated with landlords about the launch of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which would have entailed store closures and rent cuts.
Eddie Shepherd, chief executive of Clintons, said: “Despite receiving support from a number of landlords, we were unfortunately unable to secure the requisite support needed to successfully launch our proposals.
“With no other investment options available, we therefore had to take the difficult step to place the company into administration.”
He added: “We are confident that this deal will kickstart a new chapter for our business.”
The brief stint in administration will add Clintons’ name to the ranks of retailers which have struggled to stay afloat in 2019.
Mothercare recently placed its UK arm into administration and announced that its shops would close, while Debenhams, Jack Wills and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia empire have either turned to CVAs or fallen into administration as they have grappled with brutal trading conditions.
The calamitous state of the high street has prompted desperate pleas for help from retailers, with a committee of MPs concluding this week that the business rates system needs an urgent overhaul.
Figures compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed recently that shop closures reached their fastest rate in nearly a decade during the first half of this year, with an average of 16 shutting every day.
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