Oasis and Warehouse have collapsed into administration with the immediate loss of 200 jobs and more than 1,800 at risk, as the fashion chains become the latest retailers to be hit by the coronavirus crisis.
Oasis and Warehouse Limited, which also includes The Idle Man and Bastyan Fashion, has appointed administrators from the advisory firm Deloitte.
A spokesperson said 1,800 of the store group’s employees would be furloughed under the government’s job protection scheme and 41 head office staff kept on during the attempt to salvage the business.
UK government support for workers and businesses during the coronavirus crisis
Direct cash grants for self-employed people, worth 80% of average profits, up to £2,500 a month. There are similar wage subsidies for employees.
Government to back £330bn of loans to support businesses through a Bank of England scheme for big firms. There are loans of up to £5m with no interest for six months for smaller companies.
Taxes levied on commercial premises will be abolished this year for all retailers, leisure outlets and hospitality sector firms.
Britain’s smallest 700,000 businesses eligible for cash grants of £10,000. Small retailers, leisure and hospitality firms can get bigger grants of £25,000.
Government to increase value of universal credit and tax credits by £1,000 a year, as well as widening eligibility for these benefits.
Statutory sick pay to be made available from day one, rather than day four, of absence from work, although ministers have been criticised for not increasing the level of sick pay above £94.25 a week. Small firms can claim for state refunds on sick pay bills.
Local authorities to get a £500m hardship fund to provide people with council tax payment relief.
Mortgage and rental holidays available for up to three months.
Until the coronavirus lockdown, the group operated 92 standalone stores and more than 400 concessions in department stores including Debenhams, Sainsbury’s and House of Fraser. The group’s main brands will continue to trade online while administrators assess options for the future of the business.
Rob Harding, a joint administrator at Deloitte, said: “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact 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 it has been placed into administration.”
Hash Ladha, the chief executive of Oasis Warehouse, said: “This is a situation that none of us could have predicted a month ago, and it comes as shocking and difficult news for all of us. We as a management team have done everything we can to try to save the iconic brands that we love.”
The government-imposed shutdown of the high street last month has led to the administration of weak retailers including Debenhams and Cath Kidston. Others are expected to follow.
The footwear chain Office is also under pressure. Its South African owner, Truworths International, has hired advisers to find a buyer. It seeks a quick deal, which may also involve an administration process.
The Oasis and Warehouse business, which is controlled by the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, had also been seeking a new investor to take on the fashion chains. At least two prospective buyers are thought to have come forward, including Sainsbury’s and Boohoo.com, but a deal could not be finalised before the administration.
Warehouse was founded in 1976 by the designer Jeff Banks, while Oasis was founded in 1991 by the entrepreneur brothers Michael and Maurice Bennett with Vivian Scott.
The business recorded sales of £293m in the year to March 2019 but made a pretax profit of just £1.6m. It owed more than £40m in loans and overdrafts last year.
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