As widely expected, women’s fashion chains Oasis and Warehouse have collapsed into administration, the latest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdown.
Oasis and Warehouse Group’s owners, failed Icelandic lender Kaupthing, has appointed accountancy firm Deloitte to oversee the administration process.
The Group employed more than 2,000 people in total in the UK at the time of the appointment and today’s announcement will result in 202 redundancies. A total of 41 Head Office roles will be retained to assist the Administrators and 1,801 employees will be furloughed across Head Office, stores and concessions.
Oasis, Warehouse and Idle Man brands will continue to trade online in the short-term whilst the Administrators assess options for the future.
The move comes three weeks after the group was put up for sale, with a “potential buyer” waiting in the wings. Although there is understood to have been strong interest in a deal, the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic is thought to have made a solvent sale impossible to conclude.
The group has also been hit by the collapse into administration of Debenhams, which hosted a large number of Oasis and Warehouse Group’s 437 concessions.
Rob Harding, Joint Administrator at Deloitte, commented: “COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the entire retail industry and not least the Oasis Warehouse group. Despite management’s best efforts over recent weeks, and significant interest from potential buyers, it has not been possible to save the business in its current form. Therefore today it has been placed into administration. As Administrators we appreciate the cooperation and support from the management, employees, customers, landlords and suppliers, whilst we investigate options for the business. This is clearly an unprecedented and difficult time.”
The group, which was run by Hashim Ladha, a former executive at Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group and Asos, was thought to be starting to see a turnaround in its business before the coronavirus hit. Ladha said today: “This is a situation that none of us could have predicted a month ago, and comes as shocking and difficult news for all of us. We as a management team have done everything we can to try and save the iconic brands that we love."
Ladha adds: “On behalf of us all I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge our colleagues for their hard work and dedication. These are amazing brands and the business is full of tenacious, talented and determined people. I am confident that my colleagues, together with Deloitte, will find the best outcome for the business. They have my thanks and my best wishes.”
The news comes a week after a leading share trading expert predicted that Superdry, Monsoon Accessorize and INTU would all also fall victim to the drop off in sales created by the global pandemic.
Many other prominent chains have refused to pay their landlords, suppliers or the taxman and most have applied to receive emergency funding from the government through schemes to pay staff up to 80% of their salaries – as long as they do not make them redundant – and to defer VAT payments.