Job losses announced as greeting cards chain iCandy goes into administration
Greeting cards chain iCandy is facing job losses and store closures after tough high street trading forced the retailer into administration.
The firm, founded by former Clinton Cards boss Clinton Lewin, said it would axe 22 staff and shut four stores following the appointment of administrators from FRP Advisory.
It added that 79 workers would be retained and 10 stores would remain open as they sought a buyer for the business.
I Candy Cards and Gifts Ltd, which trades as iCandy, was launched by Mr Lewin following the collapse of Clinton Cards in 2012, but has come under pressure from rising business rates and a slowdown in consumer spending.
Glyn Mummery, joint administrator and partner at FRP Advisory, said: "iCandy has been a bold move for its founders who made a real success of braving regional high street from its inception at the end of 2012 - just when many retailers had given up the ghost in the wake of the financial crisis - right up until late last year.
"After the demise of Clintons, his family gift card firm, Clinton Lewin took his experience and personal savings to help carve out a niche with iCandy's innovative range of gifts across shops in the South East.
"Many of the iCandy stores continue to trade well from desirable locations in the more thriving market towns of Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk and they continue to capture the purses of shoppers looking to spend within the wider gifts market."
The joint administrators said Mr Lewin had invested "considerable amounts" of his personal savings into the business to drive growth, but the pressure on cash flow had become unsustainable in the new year after a lacklustre performance from a number of smaller stores in the South East.
Sources close to the company said Mr Lewin was the largest unsecured creditor with liabilities of around £700,000.
Total unsecured liabilities were expected to be in the region of £2 million, according to initial estimates from the administrators.
A number of potential buyers were looking at "some or all" of the retailer, which booked revenues of £4.2 million to the end of July last year.
The move would see stores close in Ilford and Romford in Essex, and Bishops Stortford and St. Albans in Hertfordshire.