Home­base re­port­edly set to close 60 stores in fur­ther blow to UK re­tail

Irish Independent - Business Week - - Front Page - JAMES DAVEY

HILCO Cap­i­tal, the new owner of Bri­tish home-im­prove­ment re­tailer Home­base, will next week de­tail plans to close around a quar­ter of its stores, threat­en­ing over 1,000 jobs, ac­cord­ing to a Sky News re­port.

Sky News said Hilco, which ac­quired Home­base from Aus­tralian group Wes­farm­ers for a nom­i­nal £1 in May, was ex­pected to out­line pro­pos­als for a so-called com­pany vol­un­tary ar­range­ment (CVA) re­struc­tur­ing that would close roughly 60 of Home­base’s 249 stores. It’s un­clear whether the com­pany’s 11 stores in the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land will be af­fected. Home­base also has a num­ber of stores in North­ern Ire­land.

A spokes­woman for Hilco de­clined to com­ment on the re­port.

A string of Bri­tish store groups have ei­ther gone out of busi­ness or an­nounced plans to close shops this year, as they strug­gle with sub­dued consumer spend­ing, ris­ing labour costs, higher busi­ness prop­erty taxes and grow­ing on­line com­pe­ti­tion.

CVAs, which al­low firms to avoid in­sol­vency or ad­min­is­tra­tion, have been adopted by re­tail­ers in­clud­ing fash­ion chain New Look, floor cov­er­ings group Car­petright and mother-and-baby goods firm Mother­care.

Hilco spe­cialises in dis­tressed or un­der-per­form­ing as­sets. It bought and ul­ti­mately closed Xtra-Vi­sion in Ire­land, as well as the HMV stores in the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land – leav­ing a store in Belfast open. Other com­pa­nies it has in­vested in in­clude ce­ram­ics com­pany Denby, floor­ing prod­uct man­u­fac­turer Kraus Group, and travel cloth­ing com­pany Til­ley En­durables. (Reuters)

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