It has been a strange six years for the retail industry.
When the economic recession hit and consumers tightened the proverbial purse strings, there were few sectors that felt the pinch quite as much as retail. However, as the economy improves and people begin to splash the cash once again, it still has not been smooth sailing for high street shops, with many succumbing to financial pressures and going out of existence.
The truth is that the industry has changed; it is a well-known fact that people are increasingly going online to buy their goods, making bricks and mortar stores at even greater risk of falling into financial distress. Indeed, the result has been devastating for some retailers, with major UK brands crumbling by the wayside as Britain marches down its road to recovery.
So, with all that being said, here is a look at five of the most high profile retail casualties from the past two years.
The flooring company fell on hard times earlier this year and, for the third time since 2008, administrators were called in to try and find a buyer for the business. The family-owned firm looked like it might get a reprieve when a deal was touted with the Chinese company Nature Floor, but this never materialised and talks were eventually abandoned over the summer.
The women’s clothing chain, which is owned by The Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, is the sister company of another fashion chain Peacocks. It entered administration for the second time on 26 June 2014, having suffered the same fate almost exactly three years earlier (on 27 June 2011).
Despite closing stores and streamlining its operations, Jane Norman could not make the numbers add up and its parent company decided the time had come to close the fashion house down. It still trades online but has no high street presence.
The mobile phone seller came unstuck in quite different circumstances to the first two retailers on the list; it was not the loss of sales to online competitors that did it for Phones 4U, it was the fact that it lost big contracts with two major operators.
Earlier this year the firm failed to renegotiate deals with EE and Vodafone – but both telecoms businesses were quick to capitalise when, having entered administration, they snapped up some of Phones 4U’s high street shops.
Cheap DVDs, online sales, downloads, streaming… you didn’t need to own a crystal ball to know that Blockbuster’s days were numbered. It remains a golden example of businesses’ need to respond to market demands and adapt to the times – as the company failed to evolve apace with the trend of buying and watching films online its closure quickly became a question of when, not if.
The iconic stores disappeared from British high streets towards the end of 2013 and it is estimated that the collapse cost the taxpayer around £7 million.
Finally, completing the list, we have the lingerie business La Senza. Attempts to find a buyer for the fashion retailer failed and it entered administration earlier this year.
The company, which was owned by serial entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, formerly of BBC show Dragons’ Den, still has more than 300 stores around the world but its presence is set to diminish on the UK’s high streets after administrators PwC confirmed they would be closing all remaining British shops.
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