Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

119 jobs on line as high street chain Internacionale goes into administration

A high street women's clothing trader has gone into administration, putting 119 jobs in Northern Ireland at risk.

Difficult trading conditions and pressure from creditors have been blamed for forcing retailer Internacionale into the move.

The firm has total staff of 1,000 across its 89 UK stores, 10 of which are in Northern Ireland. The shops will continue to trade.

PwC has been appointed joint administrators of the chain, which had been bought out of a previous administration by the firm's management team last summer.

It had employed an advisory firm to try and turn the company around, but despite 90 redundancies – mostly at its head office in the past few weeks – it decided to wind the company down through administration.

Poor trading has been at the crux of the retailer's problems and the administrators said pressure from creditors, particularly rating authorities and landlords, had added to the company's woes.

Bruce Cartwright, joint administrator and partner at PwC, said the retail environment was tough.

"The company directors have worked with key stakeholders to try and find a solution to preserve the business," he said.

"However, these efforts have proved to be unsuccessful against the backdrop of a fiercely competitive retail sector which, despite the improving economic conditions, can be unforgiving to businesses in financial distress."

The administrator said the company would continue to trade and staff will continue to be paid for their work as it tries to sell as much stock as possible to maximise the return to creditors.

Mr Cartwright urged potential buyers to come forward.

"We welcome any approaches to purchase parts of the store portfolio and safeguard jobs," he said.

Earlier this week a newspaper reported that two unidentified companies had expressed an interest in buying some of Internacionale's stores but the administrator hasn't ruled out store closures.

"Unfortunately, unless a willing purchaser for the business or store portfolio is forthcoming it is inevitable that redundancies and store closures will become necessary," Mr Cartwright said.

"The company and the administrators are making every effort to help staff through this difficult transition."

FACTFILE

Internacionale stores and employee numbers include:

Belfast (2 stores) – Donegall Place (15) and Kennedy Centre (10)

Bangor (17)

Coleraine (9)

Craigavon (12)

Dungannon (10)

Lisburn (15)

Londonderry (13)

Newry (10)

Newtownards (8)

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