Belfast Telegraph

Blue Inc's Northern Ireland stores at risk as creditors vote for deal

By Margaret Canning and PA

Local branches of menswear retailer Blue Inc could close after creditors voted through a restructuring deal likely to lead to a number of shutdowns.

The firm instructed Begbies Traynor to undertake a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), a process that allows it to have its rents reduced and to jettison underperforming stores.

Blue Inc has around 10 branches here, including in the Abbeycentre in Newtownabbey, Ballymena, the CastleCourt, Kennedy and Connswater shopping centres in Belfast and Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry.

Its main focus is affordable fashion for men, but it also stocks some childrenswear and womenswear.

Begbies did not disclose how many stores would close as part of the CVA, or how many jobs would be lost, but it is thought that more than 30 shops - a quarter of its estate - are earmarked for the axe.

Blue Inc, which has 127 outlets, is struggling under losses and is required to make debt repayments, as well as fork out for a hefty rent bill.

The CVA proposal put forward by the chain's owners received support from more than 80% of creditors, including Blue Inc's landlords and lenders.

Begbies said: "The approval of the CVA enables the company to continue with its restructuring, and secures significant employment within the UK.

"The directors are appreciative of the overwhelming support shown by key stakeholders, including staff, suppliers, landlords and secured lenders, and are committed to continuing to drive the business forward to deliver long-term profitability and growth."

Alongside the CVA, the retailer also plans to outsource its warehouse and logistics operations.

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