Fears over jobs as La Senza goes bust again

Despite vigorous efforts, the new owner has been unable to turn round the fortunes of La Senza. Picture: PA
Despite vigorous efforts, the new owner has been unable to turn round the fortunes of La Senza. Picture: PA
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More than 750 jobs are at risk, including almost 70 in Scotland, after the company behind the UK stores of lingerie chain La Senza went into administration for the second time in little more than two years.

A corporate rescue team from accountant PwC said yesterday that it would listen to offers for the 55-store chain, which was rescued by the UK arm of an Arabian retail group in 2012 but has succumbed to a slowdown in consumer spending.

PwC said the retailer has suffered “very difficult trading conditions” and had called in the administrators after “sustained efforts to make the businesses more commercially viable”.

Marnixheath, which runs La Senza stores in England, Scotland and Wales – as well as three Pinkberry frozen yoghurt outlets in London and the south-east of England – employs 752 people.

The firm has 67 staff in six Scottish stores, including 11 people in Aberdeen, eight in Dundee and ten in Edinburgh. There are three branches in Glasgow, employing 13 each at Braehead and Buchanan Galleries, and 12 in Silverburn.

It said: “Every effort has been made for two and a half years to transform and revitalise the La Senza UK business, but it has continued to experience difficult trading conditions, against the backdrop of a challenging economy and the changing dynamics of the UK retail market.

“We have, therefore, decided with regret that there is no alternative to administration. We will work closely with the administrators as they explore their options for the business and if they choose to close all or part of the business, every effort will be made to support staff in finding alternative opportunities for employment.”

Joint administrator Robert Moran said PwC will continue to trade the businesses as normal while discussions take place with interested parties over a sale. The North American operations of La Senza and others worldwide are unaffected by the administration.

Moran said staff have been paid and will continue to be paid, adding: “There are no immediate plans to close any stores and the administrators shall continue to assess the trading strategy over the coming days and weeks.”

When La Senza collapsed into administration in 2012, there were 1,300 redundancies and the closure of more than 100 outlets. However, 1,100 jobs were saved when 60 of its stores were sold by KPMG to Marnixheath, the UK arm of Kuwait-based Alshaya, which bought the exclusive rights to the brand in the UK from its US owner Limited Brands.

Visitors to La Senza’s UK website yesterday were greeted with the message: “Oops! You caught us with our panties down. We’re performing some essential website maintenance. Please check back soon.”

When the pre-pack administration deal was agreed in January 2012, Alshaya pledged to invest around £100 million in the business over two years through new products and store designs. “This is the first step in a long-term commitment to developing the La Senza UK business, which we believe has great potential,” executive chairman Mohammed Alshaya said at the time.

Former Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis bought La Senza in 1998, revived its fortunes, and then sold his stake in the company to private equity firm Lion Capital in 2006 for £100m.