Around 26,500 retail jobs under threat after week of high street turmoil

Jobs are at risk at Arcadia Group, Debenhams and Bonmarche after retailers were hit hard by the pandemic.

Arcadia Group
Arcadia Group

Around 26,500 jobs are at risk at retailers after a grim week for the UK high street.

On Monday, Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire tumbled into administration after the pandemic “severely impacted” upon sales across its brands.

It cast uncertainty over the future of its 13,000 staff, as it drafted in Deloitte to seek a sale for its brands and assets.

The insolvency helped to spark a retail bloodbath, with Debenhams starting a liquidation process just hours later.

Coronavirus – Wed Dec 2, 2020
Debenhams has called in liquidators after falling into administration in April (Tim Goode/PA)

Many of Arcadia’s staff worked at its brands’ concessions in Debenhams.

The department store giant said it would wind down its operations and close its stores for good by March next year after failing to secure a rescue deal with JD Sports.

It means all 12,000 employees are likely to lose their jobs when the chain’s 124 shops cease trading.

Sir Keir Starmer warned the collapse of the Arcadia Group and Debenhams threatens to “rip the heart out” of many high streets across the country.

On Wednesday, the high street turmoil continued as a women’s fashion chain Bonmarche entered administration for the second time in just over a year.

More than 1,500 jobs are under threat after hiring advisers from RSM to attempt to secure a rescue deal.

The retailer, which runs 225 shops nationwide, is part of billionaire Philip Day’s retail empire.

Coronavirus – Wed Dec 2, 2020
Bonmarche runs 225 shops across the UK (Adam Davy/PA)

It comes weeks after his EWM Group collapsed into administration, putting thousands of jobs at Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks and Jaeger at risk.

Following the administration of Bonmarche, Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which?, said: “This is more bad news for the retail sector following Arcadia going into administration and the collapse of a rescue deal for Debenhams.

“The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the high street, and many retailers are struggling to stay afloat.”

Uncertainty on this high street has also resulted in a raft of other restructurings, with Ann Summers and food chains Leon and Caffe Nero all undertaking Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) deals this week to slash property costs.

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