Coronavirus: High street jobs axed in sale of Oasis and Warehouse brands

The grim high street jobs toll triggered by the coronavirus crisis rose again on Thursday when administrators to Oasis and Warehouse struck a deal to sell them to Hilco Capital, the former owner of HMV.

Sky News understands that Hilco has agreed to buy the two brands, along with Idle Man, and the stock from their hundreds of outlets across the UK.

However, the deal does not include the Oasis and Warehouse Group’s stores, meaning that just over 1,800 staff at the chains are facing immediate redundancy.

It is understood that staff were told on Thursday morning that they would not receive statutory redundancy pay from the company.

Confirmation of the fate of two of the high street’s best-known retailers will underline the impact of COVID-19 on an already-struggling industry.

Deloitte, the accountancy firm, was appointed to handle an insolvency process earlier this month, following weeks of efforts to secure a solvent sale.

Oasis and Warehouse were owned by the failed Icelandic lender Kaupthing, and had been trading from just over 90 standalone stores and a further 437 concessions in department stores such as Debenhams and Selfridges.

The company’s chief executive, Hashim Ladha, left earlier this week.

In a statement issued in response to an enquiry from Sky News, Rob Harding, joint administrator at Deloitte, said: “COVID-19 has presented extraordinary challenges which have devastated the retail industry.

“It is with great sadness that we have to announce a sale of the business has not been possible and that we are announcing so many redundancies today.

“This is a very difficult time for the group’s employees and other key stakeholders and we will do everything we can to support them through this.

“We would like to thank all the employees and other key stakeholders in the group for their continued support.”

The deal with Hilco comes weeks after Debenhams confirmed that it was calling in administrators, saying that the move would help to protect it from creditors.

Cath Kidston was sold through a pre-pack administration last week, triggering hundreds more job losses.

The spate of retail collapses comes during the most torrid period in the history of the British high street, with few in the industry optimistic about a rapid recovery in sales once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

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