Belfast Telegraph

Jobs at risk as jewellery retailer seeks rescue sale

Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley

By Henry Saker-Clark

Links of London, which has one outlet here, has gone into administration, putting 350 jobs at risk.

The high street jewellery retailer has appointed Deloitte as administrators in an attempt to secure a rescue sale, while the business continues to trade.

Links sells luxury British jewellery, watches, cufflinks and gifts from 28 standalone stores and seven concessions across the UK and Ireland.

It has a concession in House of Fraser in Belfast's Victoria Square, while it also has several stockists in Northern Ireland.

Links has also temporarily suspended its website as it is unable to process online sales.

Deloitte said that the retailer has struggled to cope with "difficult trading conditions" which have weighed on a number of other UK high street chains.

The British brand is owned by troubled Greek company Folli Follie, which was plunged into crisis over a fraud related to overstating sales.

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The owners considered a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) restructuring process, refinancing or a straight sale but were unable to conclude a deal.

The administrators said that "in light of ongoing cash flow pressures", the firm's directors were left with "no choice" but to place it into administration.

Deloitte said that the business intends to continue to trade while it seeks out sale options, but said it could sell stock and assets over a period of trading "for the benefit of the company's creditors".

Links, which was founded in 1990, saw sales slide 12% to £42.9m and plunged to a £20.5m pre-tax loss in its most recently filed accounts for the year to December 2017.

Vulture fund Hilco and Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley were linked to the retailer as it sought a buyer last month.

Matt Smith, joint administrator for Links, said: "The company is well-known in its market, having been present on British high streets for almost 30 years.

"This is not the outcome we hoped for and will of course be difficult news for employees and their families.

"We appreciate the support of management and we will continue to support employees through this time," he added.

Belfast Telegraph