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Austin Reed becomes latest multichannel retailer to file for administration

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Austin Reed is today offering 60% markdowns in a sale on its website, with the call to action to “shop before it’s too late” on the day that it has filed for administration. The move comes a day after fellow high street retailer BHS took the step.

The failure of the menswear multichannel retailer, a Top150 retailer in IRUK Top500 research, and ranked in the Top5 for site merchandising, puts some 1,184 jobs at risk across 100 stores and 50 concessions in the UK. Peter Saville of business advisers AlixPartners has been appointed joint administrator. AlixPartners said the appointment to the 116-year-old business firm had come against a background of “challenging retail market conditions” and that the joint administrators would continue to trade the group while exploring options for its future, including a sale of all or part of the group, which also includes Country Casuals.

“Austin Reed is a well-regarded and iconic brand and therefore we are confident that it is an attractive proposition for a range of potential buyers, as such we expect, and welcome, contact from interested third parties,” said Saville.

Jon Copestake, chief retail analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said: “With British retail still reeling from yesterday’s BHS announcement, the news that Austin Reed will also be going into administration is another hammer blow for the high street.

“Given the tough trading conditions reported by a host of clothing retailers in the last quarter there has been a sense of inevitability that some stores would fail. The questions has simply been when and who would fall into administration first.

“This has been an incredibly tough time for profitability among UK retailers and the last year has seen the highest reported number of profit warnings since the economic crisis, when a number of high profile names including Woolworths, went into administration.

“Since 2007 over 350 British retail chains have gone into administration affecting over a quarter of a million employees, while the 1,000 jobs under threat at Austin Reed is modest compared to those under threat at BHS the timing of the news could spark fears of another wave of retail failures as creditors lose patience with chains that are locked in cyclical declines.”

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