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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 17:59 GMT
Allders goes into administration
Allders store
Allders employs about 6,000 people
The Allders department store chain has gone into administration, with Kroll appointed as administrators.

Despite a management shake-up two years ago, the 45-strong chain of stores has continued to rack up losses.

Property group Minerva put the chain up for sale last month but failed to secure a buyer.

The company will trade as normal and stores will stay open while the administrators "review all options" for the business, including a sale.

'Going concern'

Third parties have previously expressed interest in the business and the administrators say they are hopeful that they can find a buyer.

"Allders is a long-established business with a good geographic spread of stores across the whole of England in both prime High Street retail and out-of-town retail locations," said Andrew Pepper, one of the three Kroll Corporate administrators.

"Several parties have already expressed interest in the business and we will be contacting them immediately.

"This level of interest so early makes us hopeful that a going-concern sale can be achieved."

Rival retailers, such as Debenhams and House of Fraser, are thought to have previously expressed an interest in buying individual stores

Minerva said in a statement it was "disappointed" by the move into administration as it had worked hard to secure the future of Allders as a going concern.

Wages paid

Placing the company in administration may put the long-term future of the company's 5,700 employees at risk.

In the short term, all employees have been paid to the end of January and all wages going forward are to be paid as part of the administration.

The administrators also plan to investigate the position of the company's pension scheme "as a matter of urgency".

We want to reassure customers who have paid their deposits that we want to retain their custom and will make every effort to honour commitments made
Andrew Pepper, Kroll Corporate Advisory

Company accounts reveal the pensions fund has a deficit of about 15m.

"We appreciate this is a worrying time for employees and their families and will regularly keep them informed of developments, " said Mr Pepper.

Customer help

The administrators will seek to deal "as fairly as possible" with customers who have paid deposits for goods.

If the product is available, customers will get it once they have paid the outstanding amount.

If the goods are not in stock, the administrators want customers to use their deposit to buy something else in the store.

Customers are advised to contact the store where they paid their deposit or, if they paid online, they are advised to go to their nearest store.

"We want to reassure customers who have paid their deposits that we want to retain their custom and will make every effort to honour commitments made," said Mr Pepper.

New layout

Allders was bought for 162m in 2003 by the Scarlett Retail group, a consortium which included Minerva and financial group Lehman Brothers. Minerva has a 60% stake in Scarlett Retail.

Former Bhs chief Terry Green was brought in as chief executive to lead a reorganisation of the retailer.

The revamp included fresh stock and new store layouts, and a new buying team was brought in.

"Allders was trying to become a much more fashionable, youth-orientated, store, but it inherited a middle-class, middle-aged, audience," said Maureen Hinton, senior retail analyst at Verdict Research.

And, when Minerva released results in September, Mr Green admitted the speed of the reforms "has had an impact on the short-term profitability of the business".

Minerva said that its share of the Allders business recorded a loss of 22.6m for the year to 30 June.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why Allders is facing an uncertain future




SEE ALSO:
Allders store chain up for sale
08 Dec 04 |  Business
Minerva set to land Allders
05 Feb 03 |  Business


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