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Austin Reed collapse sees 50 staff in Northern Ireland out of work


Retailer: Austin Reed

Retailer: Austin Reed

Retailer: Austin Reed

Around 50 jobs are to go in Northern Ireland following the collapse of menswear retailer Austin Reed.

The company currently has a Viyella and Country Casuals store in Belfast city centre, and an Austin Reed outlet shop in Junction One outside Antrim.

Across the UK, Austin Reed will close 120 stores after administrators to the collapsed menswear retailer failed to find a buyer for the entire business, resulting in the loss of approximately 1,000 jobs.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill, headed by Philip Day, has acquired the 116-year-old chain's brand and five concessions, but did not want to take on the entire store estate.

Administrator AlixPartners said "no viable offers" for the rest of the business could be found.

Peter Saville of AlixPartners said: "We have explored all options to sell the business since our appointment and continued to trade the business with the support of the secured creditors in what is clearly an extremely challenging retail environment.

"Despite a significant number of interested parties coming forward during this period, it became clear as the process progressed that a viable solution which kept the business whole was not forthcoming. As a result we have made the difficult decision to cease trading the business and commence a wind-down of the estate."

The 120 stores will now be sold off to other retailers.

Austin Reed fell into administration in April and the news comes amid a torrid time for the high street, with the fate of department store chain BHS set to be revealed later this week.

A number of bidders were mooted to be interested in Austin Reed after its owner, the distressed retail specialist Alteri Investors, threw in the towel last month. They included Mike Ashley's Sports Direct, but a suitable offer did not materialise.

It was founded in 1900 as a tailoring firm and once counted Winston Churchill and Elizabeth Taylor as customers. But retail experts have bemoaned the firm's failure to adapt to a multi-channel environment.

Belfast Telegraph