Long Tall Sally is to wind down after 44 years in business – with the Covid-19 pandemic proving the final straw for a business already hit by change in the retail industry.
The business, a Top150 retailer in RXUK Top500 research, is still selling clothes for taller women online, but says that it expects to close at the end of August, when the website will be turned off. However, it is open to the possibility of finding a buyer in the meantime.
The retailer says trade has been particularly challenging since 2017. A “radical cost-cutting exercise” in 2018 saw it close all of its shops, but continued competition and the uncertain economic outlook means that its shareholders can no longer continue to support the online-only business. Today it employs 85 people, including 19 in Croydon and 66 in its London head office. The retailer furloughed staff during the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme but says that while that afforded some breathing space, the decision was unavoidable. The retailer says it is continuing to settle outstanding invoices from suppliers and staff will be notified of any job
In a letter to customers on its website, Long Tall Sally chief operating officer Alison Doherty, who has worked at the retailer for the last 10 years, said this was the end of an era. She said: “The changing economics of retail, along with fierce competition have hit us hard. Trading has been incredibly challenging and we’ve relied heavily on shareholder support to bolster LTS.
“The very sudden and very profound impact of Covid-19 has further weakened our position. The economic outlook is now too uncertain for our shareholders to continue to support the business so it’s with a very heavy heart that I must tell you we will be winding down Long Tall Sally. Please know we explored every possible avenue to continue trading, but the financial impact of the pandemic means the business is no longer sustainable.”
Long Tall Sally, founded in 1976, is now owned by TriStyle which has said it will notify staff, who have now been served notice of redundancy, when any UK vacancies become available.