Republic latest retailer on brink of collapse

FASHION chain Republic is expected to collapse into administration today, putting 1,000 jobs at risk as it becomes the latest in a string of high-street casualties.

The group has already lined up Ernst & Young to handle the administration, according to reports.

Republic, which is owned by private equity firm TPG, started in Leeds as a men’s denim retailer in 1986 and now has around 120 stores selling menswear and womenswear brands, including G-Star, Diesel and Firetrap.

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The youth fashion retailer’s woes follow a bleak start to the year for the retail sector, with a series of high-profile firms having hit the wall.

Thousands of jobs have been axed after the long-established music and films retailer HMV, the camera group Jessops and the DVD and games rental group Blockbuster all called in the administrators last month.

It is understood that Republic has suffered amid poor trading in recent months, given the recent consumer spending pressures.

Its focus on the north of England – an area that has been hit particularly badly by the recession – is also blamed for the company’s demise.

The firm’s chairman, Andy Bond, a former boss of supermarket group Asda, is said to have stepped down last week after less than two years in the post.

The chain recently hired the former TK Maxx boss Paul Sweetenham as chief executive.

TPG bought Republic in June 2010 in a deal worth about £300 million, with the founders understood to have retained a significant stake.

E&Y and Republic declined to comment last night.