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Mexx stores shutting up shop as brand collapses: Bankruptcy spells end for all retailer's Irish outlets


Chic: Models at the Mex store, Arthur Street in Belfast

Chic: Models at the Mex store, Arthur Street in Belfast

Chic: Models at the Mex store, Arthur Street in Belfast

Fashion brand Mexx is closing more than two dozen stores and concessions across Northern Ireland and the Republic, it can be revealed.

At least 10 have already shut their doors in Northern Ireland - including one prominent high-street store in Belfast - with four others expected to follow suit.

It comes after the Dutch-based parent company went bankrupt in December.

Banbridge-based businessman John Houston has operated the popular fashion brand as a franchise since 2011 - with a number of stand-alone Mexx shops and in-store concessions.

But Mexx's bankruptcy in December brought an end to Mr Houston's supply of stock, forcing him to begin shutting up shop across Ireland.

"We spent the last three years building up the brand in Ireland, to compete with other larger brands," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It's extremely disappointing that due to administration of Mexx worldwide, it looks as if the brand could disappear.

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"I'm obviously disappointed with the wasted time and effort I put in building the brand.

"The fact that the company has gone in to administration worldwide is completely out of my control."

Mr Houston said most staff have been redeployed in other successful retail businesses he owns.

But it's understood some have left the company.

"My main priority was to redeploy staff within other businesses which I own, and looking at substituting the Mexx brand with others in my portfolio," he said.

And Mr Houston - who has been in the retail trade for more than 20 years - had expected this year to be his Mexx franchise's most successful yet.

"After three hugely successful years of double-digit growth, we were looking forward to 2015 being our most successful year," he said.

Mexx operated a number of outlets across Northern Ireland, with the majority of the 14 here based as concessions in department stores such as Moores in Coleraine.

Those locations which have already shut include Arthur Street in Belfast, Bangor and Lisburn.

Mr Houston also runs another 11 Mexx concession stores in Republic, as well as selling the brand's clothing to several dozen other shops. Mexx has 500 stores in 56 countries across the globe. It's been stocked in Northern Ireland since the 1990s.

Meanwhile, there have been reports a Turkish retail firm has taken control of the bankrupt Dutch fashion chain.

It was reported Eroglu Holding could be set to reopen some of the Dutch Mexx stores, with plans to keep on some of the existing workforce.

But it's not clear if that will have any impact on business here.

The parent company's bankruptcy also led to the closure of 95 stores in Canada.

The closure of the Mexx outlets is the latest in a line of high street fashion upsets.

In 2013, another big-name brand - French Connection - went under.

Its Northern Ireland stores were run on a franchise model by Julian Jordan, and were an important destination for fashion-conscious shoppers for well over a decade. It had a presence through concessions in shopping centres - including House of Fraser in Victoria Square.

Just last month, clothing brand Bank entered administration - putting 23 Belfast jobs at risk.

And another independent fashion retailer told the Belfast Telegraph he had suffered poor sales in December - with Christmas trade not as buoyant as he had hoped.

But he said there was a welcome spike in sales in January.