Belfast Telegraph

Fears for jobs at stricken fashion company

A fashion chain formed following last year's collapse of Ethel Austin fell into administration on Friday, casting uncertainty over the future of more than 1,000 jobs.

Life -amp; Style Retail, which runs 91 stores in the UK, has appointed RSM Tenon as administrator after becoming the latest victim of the tough retail environment.

Joint-administrator Simon Bonney said the stricken business will continue to trade as normal for the immediate future while a buyer is sought.

However, some of the stores are expected to close in coming weeks, in line with the previous management's plans, he added.

There have been reports that a private equity firm could rescue the company, saving at least some of the 1,068 jobs.

The company based in Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was formed from the remnants of the Ethel Austin fashion chain, which collapsed in March 2010.

Elaine McPherson, formerly the chief executive of Ethel Austin, bought nearly 100 of its stores from administrators and gave it a new name, saving 1,183 jobs. She also bought the assets of sister company, homewares retailer Au Naturale.

It was the second time she had done so after Ethel Austin previously went into administration in 2008 and she pledged to return the chain to its former glory.

Ms McPherson made her fortune selling the MK One fashion chain with Philip Green in 2004.

Ethel Austin, which was originally based in Knowsley, Merseyside, was formed in 1934 by Ethel and George Austin from a council house in Liverpool.

The company, which at one stage ran some 300 stores, came under pressure from budget retailers like Primark and Matalan.


Stores facing closure if administrator does not find a buyer for Life -amp; Style -amp; Retail