Links of London jewellery chain goes into administration – The Guardian

Links of London jewellery chain goes into administration - The Guardian
Links of London: Jobs at risk as firm goes into administration
The chain, which operates 35 stores and concessions in the UK and Ireland, had been seeking a buyer before being put into administration on Tuesday. Sports Direct owner, Mike Ashley, and Hilco Capital, the owner of Homebase, had been reported as potential bidders in a last-ditch attempt to sell the loss-making business kicked off by its parent company in August.

Matt Smith, joint administrator for Links of London, said: The company has had to contend with difficult trading conditions that have impacted the whole retail sector.

It added that the business intends to continue to trade while it seeks out sale options, but said it could sell stock and assets over a period of trading for the benefit of the companys creditors.

The directors have been seeking alternative solutions, including consideration of a CVA, refinancing or sale, but have unfortunately been unable to conclude such a transaction.

Links of London jewellery chain collapse leaves 350 jobs at risk

A CVA is an insolvency process that allows retailers to close stores and cut their rent bills if they can reach agreement with landlords.

Smith said the directors had run out of time to find a buyer: In light of ongoing cash flow pressures, this has left the directors with no choice but to place the business into administration.

Links of London jewellery chain falls into administration leaving 350 jobs at risk

The chain, founded in 1990 by John Ayton and Annoushka Ducas, is owned by troubled Greek company Folli Follie.

The company had been seeking a buyer in recent weeks with Sports Direct owner, Mike Ashley, said to be among potential bidders, as well as the Hilco group.

Links of London goes into administration putting at least 350 jobs at risk

Links of London has more than 330 stores globally, with 28 stores and seven concessions in the UK and Ireland. Other international operations trading under the Links of London brand are unaffected. Links of Londons UK business reported a pretax loss of £20.5m and revenues of £42.9m in 2017, according to the most recent publicly available accounts.

The owners had considered a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) restructuring process, refinancing or a straight sale but were unable to conclude a deal.

The company is well-known in its market having been present on British high streets for almost 30 years, said Smith. This is not the outcome we hoped for and will of course be difficult news for employees and their families.

Last month, retailers and unions called for urgent government action to help struggling high streets as data showed the number of shops, pubs and restaurants lying empty was rising at the fastest pace in nearly a decade.

There was a net decline of 1,234 in the number of chain store outlets on Britains top 500 high streets in the first six months of this year, according to analysis by accountants PwC and high street analysts the Local Data Company (LDC).

Links of London collapses putting 350 jobs at risk

Chains including Karen Millen, Jack Wills, Bathstore, Patisserie Valerie and Debenhams have gone into administration this year after the collapse of House of Fraser, Evans Cycles, Maplin and Poundworld in 2018. Some of those chains are still in business, taken over by new operators after their collapse, but have closed outlets.

“We intend to continue to trade the business and will be exploring any options for a sale. If this cannot be achieved, then we will seek to realise stock and other assets over a period of trading for the benefit of the companys creditors.

About 57,000 retail jobs disappeared in the three months to August compared with the same period in 2018.

In August, Folli Follie confirmed it had appointed advisory firms Deloitte and Savigny Partners to look at potential sale options for the jewellery retailer.

Links of London has collapsed into administration in a further blow to the struggling UK high street, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

Last year, Folli Follie was found to have overstated its 2017 revenues by more than €1bn, according to an audit ordered by the company. The audit found the company had overstated sales in Asia by 90%. Earlier this year, Greeces securities regulator fined the company and 10 of its former and current top executives €20.3m over the manipulation of its financial statements.

The retailer appointed Deloitte as administrators after it ran out of cash before it was able to secure a sale or restructuring plan.

Home UK World Politics US Climate Science & Tech Business Ents & Arts Travel Offbeat Analysis Opinion Sky Views Videos Weather Watch Live Links of London jewellery chain collapse leaves 350 jobs at risk The luxury jewellers owners throw in the towel after failing to find a buyer for the business in a new blow for the high street. James Sillars Business reporter @SkyNewsBiz

The company collapsed into administration on Wednesday – placing hundreds of jobs and high street stores at risk of closure

image/svg+xml Why you can trust Sky News The struggling jewellery chain Links of London has fallen into administration, putting 350 jobs at risk.

The move followed a failed sale process initiated by its troubled Greek owner, Folli Follie, which was plunged into crisis over a fraud relating to overstated sales.

Sky News reported a month ago that Mike Ashleys Sports Direct was among two final bidders for the chain which trades from 28 stores and seven concessions.

Links is continuing to trade pending a potential pre-pack administration sale that could see some or all of the stores saved.

The news represents a new blow for the high street after some rare cheer earlier on Wednesday when it was announced that Hays Travel had bought failed Thomas Cooks retail operation for an undisclosed sum – saving as many as 2,500 jobs.

Chains with exposure to the high street have had it tough since last year when a toxic cocktail of weaker consumer spending combined with rising costs, from things such as business rates and rents, to push big names into trouble.

Toys R Us and Maplin were the first to go while even Sir Philip Greens Topshop empire was forced to go cap in hand to landlords for a rescue package called a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

Business services firm Deloitte, which oversaw the auction for the jewellery chain, has been appointed administrator.

Joint administrator, Matt Smith, said: “The company has had to contend with difficult trading conditions that have impacted the whole retail sector.

“The directors have been seeking alternative solutions, including consideration of a CVA, refinancing or sale, but have unfortunately been unable to conclude such a transaction.

“In light of ongoing cash flow pressures, this has left the directors with no choice but to place the business into administration.”