The business closures that shook the UK - and some that didn't

Despite Brexit uncertainty, the UK remained in the top spot for Forbes’ annual Best Countries for Business list in 2019.


The business closures that shook the UK – and some that didn’t

Debenhams Stockton

 

 

The list ranks countries based on innovation, workforce, and tax burdens and the UK scored high (or low) in all three.

 

While there’s many businesses success stories, there are always more which struggle to stay afloat and eventually fail. 

 

Small businesses are the most likely to close, with 20 percent of SMEs shutting within their first year and a staggering 60 per cent by the third year.

 

This is concerning and it’s not only small businesses startups that risk a two in three failure rate. Even big businesses and brands, once customer favourites and household names, can end up closing their doors for the final time. 

 

These days many people take to social media to voice their shock and sadness at well-known businesses which have fallen into administration or liquidation. 

 

We’ve analysed reactions to some of the biggest business closures and companies falling into administration to see which businesses the public miss the most and which they hope will recover with support.

 

Measuring your reactions

 

The analysis looked at businesses which had closed or gone into administration during the period where news generated hot topics for conversation on Twitter

 

Overall, 42 businesses were identified as having made the news by their closure or reports of financial difficulty. For each business, 500 tweets were extracted within the first month of their announcement and measured for their sentiment rating. 

 

This means that the data measured how positive or negative the public reaction to the failure of each business is. Each business was then given a score between +100 and -100, showing their overall favourability among Twitter commentators.

 

Closed businesses we miss the most

 

These businesses achieved a high sentiment score, meaning that people shared their love for the company and regret at seeing them go. A mix of entertainment businesses, fashion retailers, and restaurants were the ones that found themselves being missed the most.

 

QUIZ

One of the original “fast fashion” chain shops, QUIZ went into administration in June 2020 after struggling to make sales while the various pandemic lockdowns were in effect.

 

Founded in Scotland in 1993, they were eventually caught and overhauled by similar competitors such as Primark that maintained a popular instore shopping experience. 

 

QUIZ had a sentiment score of +96 which shows that it would have a receptive audience if it ever relaunched as a physical or online brand. 

 

LoveFilm

A DVD-by-mail service, LoveFilm, topped the list of the businesses that we miss the most.

 

With a sentiment score of +85.4, Twitter users voiced their support for the pre-streaming video on demand company. The company was founded in 2002, growing to two million subscribers by 2011 when Amazon acquired the business.

 

However, the growth of internet streaming meant that by 2017 the postal arm of LoveFilm’s services was virtually defunct. Amazon eventually closed the business to concentrate on its own streaming platform – Amazon Prime.

 

One Twitter user stated that “Amazon axing @lovefilm is rotten news for film lovers”, showing that the postal video service was used by people looking for interesting and unique films not readily available on streaming services. 

 

Of course, now we couldn’t imagine a world without the immediate satisfaction of streaming, where the latest season of Bridgerton or Stranger Things is right at our fingertips.  Many film buffs will point to the lack of a surprise factor with streaming services but even the biggest movie fans have adapted to the instant viewing model.

 

Victoria’s Secret

 

Fashion retail businesses which have fallen into administration in 2020 achieved high sentiment scores. Victoria’s Secret followed LoveFilm and QUIZ with the third-highest sentiment score in the data, achieving an approval rating of 63.7.

 

While this business is not without its controversy, it appears that the public has shown their appreciation for these companies online. Victoria’s Secret has come under criticism after a Times investigation uncovered bullying and harassment of models and employees. All the while, it seems that people are not ready to give up on this lingerie retailer just yet.

 

Topshop and Topman

 

After a long period of financial difficulty, Sir Philip Green’s retail empire, Arcadia, fell into administration in December 2020. While the impact of COVID-19 on the high street is most likely to blame for falling revenue and potential for closure in this businesses, high rents have proven disastrous for high street retailers already struggling with their finances.

 

Topshop and Topman achieved a sentiment score of 60.5, with Twitter users expressing their sadness over the news: “How are @Dorothy_Perkins and @Topshop going into administration today. Love both of these stores.”

 

In January 2021, Arcadia announced that it was closing 31 stores and cutting 714 jobs in an attempt to save the business. It’s clear that the public does not intend to give up on the shop just yet.

 

Brantano

 

You may remember this shoe retailer which closed its remaining UK stores in 2017. Brantano sold a variety of branded shoe names, favouring affordability in its appeal to its customers.

 

The company achieved a sentiment score of +14, meaning that reactions to its closure sparked some heartfelt messages and genuine regret at not being able to obtain fashionable footwear at reasonable prices.

 

Jamie’s Italian

 

Only just clawing into the hearts of Twitter users, Jamie Oliver’s high street restaurant chain is missed by some people. However, with a sentiment score of only +3.7, it appears that reactions were mixed to the closure. 

 

High prices and middling service weren’t enough to generate many “That’s Amore” on the internet among devastated diners.

 

 

 


Businesses missed the least

 

It’s always sad to see a business close as there are consequences for staff and directors, but often their closures aren’t surprising. 

 

Failure to innovate and move with the times can lead to businesses shutting up for good, even after a successful stint on the high street. If you aren’t pleasing customers then no matter what your trade, eventually if you disappoint enough customers they’ll be happy to see you in the history books.

 

Houseology

 

Home furnishing company Houseology did not achieve a high sentiment score among Twitter users when it was announced that the company was going into administration. 

 

Achieving a score of -98.2, the lowest score in the data, it appears that the public had little motivation to show compassion for this business failure. The Scottish interior design business was founded in 2010. However, after falling in January 2020, the public acted unsurprised. One Twitter user wrote: “Houseology went into administration. Another brand detached from their customers.” 

 

The business was eventually bought by Olivia’s – another furniture ecommerce business – and hopefully will be able to turn it around and give customers a reason to give it a second chance.

 

Phones4U

 

Independent mobile phone retailer Phones4U failed to impress Twitter users when it closed in 2014. 

 

Despite a memorable advertising campaign, the mobile and smartphone sales market began to move away from lengthy contracts and a variety of mobile phone manufacturers.

 

Instead, Apple, Samsung, and Huawei dominated the sector with standalone models. Mobile network providers also started selling their own deals at more competitive rates.

 

Phones4U eventually closed for good when major network providers EE and Vodafone ended their contracts with the company. Phones4U ended with a sentiment score of -79.6 showing most consumers were happy to say goodbye.

 

Blockbuster

Movie rental company Blockbuster also achieved a low sentimentality score, despite heavy nostalgia surrounding the business.

 

With a score of -78.2, the business was criticised for its failure to adapt to the innovation of online streaming – most famously for turning down the offer to buy Netflix in its early stages. 

 

While people reminisce about physically selecting films, there was wider recognition about their to move with the times. One user explained that the company had been ignorant with its own success, stating that “too much success leads to complacency or ignorance to changing market desires”, and that “Blockbuster’s failure to switch to online movie rental/streaming” was its fatal mistake.

 

Other businesses such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have since dominated the video rental and streaming market.

 

 

 


 

When businesses go into administration, the news can still be a shock and create conversation surrounding what people love the most and least about a brand. 

 

2020 was a difficult year for all businesses, with several closures during the pandemic causing financial adversity.

 

When a company goes into administration, it can reveal some businesses’ most loved aspects, as highlighted by users on Twitter. 

 

Some business closure comes as a shock to the public. Their services and products are well-loved, but when their finances are in trouble, public empathy doesn’t translate into custom.

 

The failure to adapt and innovate can also be disastrous, especially for companies who risk insolvency and liquidation.

 

Even small businesses must manage their finances with stringency and caution, particularly during periods of uncertainty.

 

Business success can rely on positive customer relations while maintaining a solid source of income although they should also get some professional advice before making any decisions about their future – no matter what their customers think.

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