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Last Updated: Monday, 29 November, 2004, 15:34 GMT
Courts to go into administration
Courts store (web grab)
Banks were unwilling to support Courts' mounting debts
Home furnishings group Courts is to go into administration after banks pulled the plug on its debts.

Shares in the group were suspended on the London Stock Exchange after they fell to a low of 13.5p.

The firm has seen its UK sales fall and has been hit by the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan to its Caribbean arm.

Courts had been battling to restructure debts of 280m but lenders have rejected its latest debt-for equity plan, forcing it into administration.

Plan rejected

"The company has applied to have its shares suspended from the official list of the London Stock Exchange with immediate effect, pending clarification of its financial position," the company said in a statement.

The group, based in Morden, Surrey, has more than 350 stores around the world, including about 100 in the UK.

The company's shares have slumped more than 95% in the past 12 months after a series of warnings prompted by poor sales, a weak dollar, a costly restructuring programme and Hurricane Ivan.

Earlier this month, the firm had warned it would slip into loss in the second half of the year as its UK business had been hit by a dramatic fall in sales.

When Hurricane Ivan hit the Caribbean, it affected the firm's 27 stores in Jamaica and its three stores in Grenada. This is expected to hit interim profits, due in December, by between 4m and 7m.

The substantial cost of restructuring its UK business had wiped out profits from its overseas operations.

In a bid to tackle its deteriorating fortunes in recent months, the board went through a shake-up, with five new faces appointed to the team.

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