Belfast Telegraph

Toys R Us and Maplin enter administration - Northern Ireland jobs among 1,000s at risk across UK

By Andrew Madden

More than 100 retail jobs in Northern Ireland - thousands across the UK - are at risk as electrics firm Maplin and Toys R Us, which operate eight stores in total, go into administration.

Toys R Us operate four stores Northern Ireland: Belfast city centre, Newtownabbey, Londonderry and Lisburn.

In December, a last-minute restructuring saved the company from collapse - however some 25% of stores were to be shuttered at part of the deal.

Outlets in Londonderry and Newtownabbey were two of those stores marked for closure, which was expected to happen in the spring.

Maplin's four stores are in Connswater Shopping Centre in Belfast, Boucher Road, Belfast, Coleraine and Londonderry.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “With both Maplin and Toys R Us going into administration it is a sad day for the retail sector. With nine stores in Northern Ireland, between the two retailers, our thoughts are with the staff at this difficult time”

“The economic impact of this is much wider than just the nine stores. There will also be the reduction in footfall for neighbouring retailers which has to factored in”

Administrator Moorfields Advisory has started an “orderly wind-down” of the Toys R Us’ stores after the embattled firm failed to find a last-minute buyer to save the business. Toys R Us is one of the nation’s biggest toy retailers, with more than 100 stores in the UK and 1,500 in 33 countries across the globe.

The firm was grappling with a £15 million tax bill as well as money owed to lenders.

Simon Thomas, Moorfields partner and joint administrator, said: “We will be conducting an orderly wind-down of the store portfolio over the coming weeks.

“All stores remain open until further notice and stock will be subject to clearance and special promotions. We’re encouraging customers to redeem their gift cards and vouchers as soon as possible.

“We will make every effort to secure a buyer for all or part of the business.”

Electronics company Maplin  became the second retailer on the same day to collapse into administration, putting another 2,500 jobs at risk.

The group, owned by private equity firm Rutland Partners, called in PwC on Wednesday after attempts to rescue the chain failed.

Maplin has 217 stores in the UK, and PwC is still attempting to find a buyer for the group.

Graham Harris, the company’s chief executive, said: “I can confirm this morning that it has not been possible to secure a solvent sale of the business and as a result we now have no alternative but to enter into an administration process.

“During this process Maplin will continue to trade and remains open for business.”

He added that the retailer has been struggling to mitigate the impact of the pound’s devaluation post the Brexit vote, a weak consumer environment and the withdrawal of credit insurance.

“This necessitated an intensive search for new capital that in current market conditions has proved impossible to raise.

“These macro factors have been the principal challenge, not the Maplin brand or its market differentiation,” Mr Harris added.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill, run by retail billionaire Philip Day, had been touted as a potential rescuer for Maplin.

But talks are thought to have broken down, leaving Rutland no alternative but to call in administrators.

High street chains across the board have been hit hard by falling consumer spending, soaring inflation and competition from online rivals.

“We believe passionately that Maplin has a place on the high street, and that our trust, credibility and expertise meets a customer need that is not supported elsewhere,” the chief executive insisted.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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