Belfast Telegraph

Shop staff lose jobs as clothes firm East shuts in Belfast city centre

By John Mulgrew

Fashion brand East has become the latest casualty of the high street with the closure of a number of its shops - including its Belfast store, it can be revealed.

The store shut up shop at Castle Place after its parent company went into administration.

And a sign has now been affixed to the store door.

It reads: "This store is now closed. East Limited is in administration.

"Geoffrey Bouchier and Philip Duffy of Duff & Phelps were appointed joint administrators of the company on June 22, 2015."

The Belfast store was the only one the firm operated in Northern Ireland.

It's understood six staff were made redundant.

A pre-pack administration deal did secure more than 550 jobs and 82 stores and concessions throughout the UK and Ireland.

But the Belfast store is one of 19 which were not included in the rescue.

The firm has said its website will operate as normal.

The 19 stores affected - which includes Belfast, Brighton, Carmarthen, Cheshire Oaks, Exeter, Glasgow, Harpenden, Hereford, Inverness and Jersey - have now closed.

The female fashion retailer began its life back in 1994, creating Eastern inspired clothes and accessories. Earlier this year, high street fashion chain Bank also entered administration, putting 1,500 jobs at risk across the UK.

In February, the Belfast Telegraph revealed fashion brand Mexx was closing more than two dozen stores and concessions across Northern Ireland and the Republic.

And in 2013, another big-name brand - French Connection - also went under.

While it's the latest clothing casualty on Northern Ireland's high streets, other retailers are expanding and thriving.

One of those is Gap - which is moving from its CastleCourt site to Donegall Place, replacing the former Eason store.

That's despite it revealing just this month it's set to close 175 stores across the US.

And Spanish-owned retailer Zara recently unveiled its brand new bigger store just across the street - helping to meet demand for its brand of fast fashion which has already made it into the wardrobes of none other than the Duchess of Cambridge and pop diva Gwen Stefani.

Zara's veritable success among celebrities and the public has turned it into one of the world's largest fashion brands.

Meanwhile, in a statement regarding the job losses at East, Duff & Phelps managing director Geoffrey Bouchier said: "East Limited had suffered losses in the past few years due to the continuing difficult economic climate and also the shift in consumer spending to different channels away from the traditional high street stores.

"The restructuring process has resulted in the continuation of viable stores and the safeguarding of the majority of the employees and ensures that the business is financially secure for future trading."

Belfast Telegraph