Belfast Telegraph

1,000 jobs lost as embattled retailer closes 22 UK outlets

By Ella Pickover

More than 1,000 jobs were lost after administrators of department store chain TJ Hughes announced the last day of trading of 22 of its stores.

Ernst -amp; Young said the stores, which doesn't include those in Northern Ireland, will close next week, seeing 1,061 employees losing their positions.

A spokesman said it continued to seek a sale of the company's remaining business and assets.

Joint administrator Tom Jack said: "It is regrettable that we have had to schedule these store closures and we are extremely grateful to the employees and management at all the group's stores, at the head office and at warehouses for their loyalty and support during what has been a very difficult and uncertain time.

"We continue in negotiations with a number of interested parties for a large number of the remaining stores in the group's portfolio, and we are keen to stress that those stores unaffected by these closures will continue to trade for the time being, with new stock lines being added."

Liverpool-based TJ Hughes called in the administrators in June after a difficult period of trading, as nervous consumers put off purchases of big-ticket items such as fridges and TVs.

TJ Hughes is one of a number of retailers to suffer at the hands of a consumer spending squeeze in the UK.

Habitat and fashion chain Jane Norman recently went into administration, while the likes of HMV and JJB Sports are shutting down stores across the UK.

TJ Hughes was previously owned by private equity group Silverfleet, which bought the company for a price tag of around £70m in 2003.

The retailer was founded in Liverpool in 1912 by Thomas Hughes. Its stores are still mainly located in the North of England.

It offers products across homewares, soft furnishings, beauty and fragrance, menswear, lingerie, toys and electrical items.

The stores which are due to close are in Shrewsbury, Birkenhead, Dumfries, Dundee, Rochdale, Widnes, Wolverhampton, Stretford, Bolton, Boscombe, Burnley, Chester, Crawley, Hull, Kettering, Kidderminster, Macclesfield, Nuneaton, St Helens, Walsall, Watford and Weston-super-Mare.

Earlier this week, 442 jobs were saved after administrators reached an agreement to sell four stores to a housewares company.

Lewis's Home Retail, a company associated with Speke-based homewares group Benross, has acquired TJ Hughes' flagship store in Liverpool, together with stores in Eastbourne, Glasgow and Sheffield.