Britain’s beleaguered high street suffered another setback today when shoe retailer Barratts and video rental chain Blockbuster fell into administration, putting more than 3,000 jobs at risk.
Directors at Barratts Shoes said they had no option but to call in administrators from Duff & Phelps after an investor pulled out of plans to inject £5 million at the end of last week, marking the third time in four years that the firm has gone into administration.
Joint administrators Philip Duffy and David Whitehouse said they were seeking to sell Barratts as a going concern but could not rule out store closures or job losses. The firm operates from 75 stores and 23 concessions across the UK and Ireland, employing 1,035 people.
Phil Dorrell, director of retail consultant Retail Remedy, described the move as “another sad day for the high street” but said Barratts had failed to keep up with changing consumer tastes.
He added: “These days, being 110 years old and a recognised high street brand is no guarantee that you will remain on the high street. The consumer is too fickle and the landscape changing too fast.”
Barratts boss Michael Ziff, who had been involved in a previous deal to keep Barratts going after it went into administration in 2009, stepped in to save most of the chain almost two years ago, although that came with the loss of 680 jobs.
Other recent high-profile casualties on the high street include electricals chain Comet, cameras retailer Jessops and JJB Sports. Julie Palmer, a partner at corporate recovery firm Begbies Traynor, said many retailers can find themselves trapped in a “downward spiral” if suppliers are unwilling to extend them credit to fill their shelves.
Along with pressure from suppliers, high street stores are facing intense competition from the internet, and the rise in popularity of online movie streaming offered by the likes of Amazon’s Lovefilm and rival Netflix has dented demand for Blockbuster’s rental services.
Simon Thomas and Nick O’Reilly, of restructuring and insolvency firm Moorfields Corporate Recovery, were appointed administrators of TS Operations, which trades as Blockbuster.
Private equity firm Gordon Brothers Europe bought the business for an undisclosed sum in March, shortly after its previous collapse, but last month said it was planning to call in administrators for the chain, which trades from 264 stores and employs 2,000 people.
Thomas said the business will continue to trade as normal, adding: “We are pleased to say that there are parties who are interested in parts of the business. Our focus will be to secure a future for as much of the business as possible as well as trying to save jobs before Christmas.”