2020 Business Review – Part Two
Whether you’re in hospitality, retail, education, construction or any other sector – there has been a significant impact on your business and on the lives of your staff and customers.
Welcome to the second part of our 2020 business review covering July to December.
The summer finally arrived in July but some this wasn’t enough for Yorkshire-based homeware and gifts retailer Peter Jones.
The 50-year-old business had ten stores across the county and 70 staff who were on furlough and made redundant when the company closed due to insolvency.
It was a similar story for prestige shoe company Oliver Sweeney which closed its stores in prestigious Mayfair, Leadenhall Market and Covent Garden in London permanently along with outlets in Leeds and Manchester too.
CEO Tim Cooper confirmed the physical stores would not reopen and added: “We are disappointed that the stores will no longer continue, but we are confident and excited about the brand going forward online.”
August saw one of the biggest names in the UK health and leisure sector close its doors for the final time.
DW Sports went into administration with the loss of 1,700 positions across the UK. 25 of their stores closed immediately along with the company website while the remaining 50 would close after seeing through closing-down sales.
The company said its income was hit by the mandated closure of gyms and stores due to the Covid lockdown. 73 DW Sports branded gyms would also be closing but its sister company Fitness First which operates 43 health clubs would be unaffected by the developments.
Most sports in the UK were affected by Covid-19 which meant the English football season kicked off later than usual although one name was missing from the fixture list.
The Silkmen of Macclesfield Town were wound up with debts of over £500,000 including £190,000 owed to HMRC.
The winding-up petition began in January 2019 and had been adjourned several times previously before the patience of the Insolvency and Companies Court finally ran out despite an offer from a would-be purchaser.
The Judge granted a compulsory winding-up order saying that the purchaser had not provided a business plan for the club should they take over, nor was there any evidence that the club would be able to pay its debts if allowed to continue in the Vanarama National League which they were relegated to at the end of the previous season.
October saw the nutritional food-to-go chain Abokado enter a pre-pack administration with the loss of 150 jobs.
The business was unable to open any of its 19 London locations since the first lockdown in March
Founder Mark Lilley said: “Unfortunately, in light of the continued uncertainty, the accumulating liabilities and the existing leasehold structures, it was impossible to secure sufficient investment to reopen the business.
“For a business which is entirely dependent on London’s office community, the overnight shift to working from home and the emptying out of central London has been simply devastating.
November began with a canary in the mine moment, although we didn’t know it at the time.
Peacocks and Jaeger went into administration after owners – the Edinburgh Woollen Mill group, couldn’t find a buyer for them, leaving 4,700 positions in the balance.
Worse was to follow for EWM as they themselves announced that they too would be entering administration days later placing another 2,800 jobs at risk.
Chief Executive of the group Steve Simpson admitted that the past seven months had been extremely difficult for the group. A buyer or new investors are still being sought but Simpson admitted that some job losses and store closures would be inevitable.
The month ended with one of the biggest insolvency bombshells of any recent year.
Arcadia, the parent company of Topshop, Topman, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Miss Selfridge, announced their administration and placing 13,000 jobs in jeopardy – with 9,000 employees still remaining on furlough.
Administrators said that the pandemic had severely impacted sales and that stores would continue to trade in the short term with no redundancies announced while a buyer was sought.
Hope for a stronger Christmas trading period was dashed for women’s clothing chain BonMarche as they went into administration for the second time in just over a year placing 1,500 jobs and 225 stores at risk.
A spokesperson for the administrators said: “Bonmarche remains an attractive brand with a loyal customer base. It’s our intention to continue to trade whilst working closely with management to explore the options for the business.”
Then we had the news that following the collapse of takeover talks with JD Sports that Debenhams announced that they would begin a liquidation process, which is desperately sad news for their remaining 12,000 employees and 122 UK stores.
The company had gone into administration in April and JD Sports were widely seen as the last remaining credible buyer at this time.
The administration of Arcadia exacerbated the circumstances as Debenhams and Arcadia remained each other’s largest customers through concessions and other trade.
Sadly the ongoing story of 2020 – administrations, liquidations and closures – looks set to continue into 2021 with the traditionally strong Christmas trading period being affected by tough local lockdowns continuing to be implemented across every region of the UK.
Businesses hoping to survive and prosper in the next 12 months can strengthen their chances of being around to see the end of the pandemic and the return of stronger trading conditions if they take action now.
Getting professional advice on how to make your company more robust and responsive to quickly changing conditions and customer behaviours can be done right now.
There’s several small and big changes you can make to shore up your company for the short term and be ready to take advantage when the trading weather changes.
No matter what situation you’re facing – we’re sure we can help. All you’ve got to do is ask!