With the migration to e-commerce and the impact of the pandemic, UK retailer sector has faced a tough last few years.
And with added pressures of supply chain issues, inflation at a 30-year-high and a cost of living squeeze impacting consumer spending, retailers face yet another turbulent year.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Rising inflation is a continued concern for both consumers and retailers. While retailers are going to great lengths to absorb rising costs, increases in transport, energy, commodity prices and wages are forcing them to raise prices.”
Ms Dickinson added: “Retailers are working hard to mitigate cost increases, and many supermarkets have expanded their value ranges for food, but it is likely that overall prices will continue to rise."
Many retailers have gone into administration already in 2022.
Here, based on data gathered by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), reveals the retailers that have called in administrators this year so far.
Studio Retail Group
The Lancashire-headquartered online retailer, whose largest shareholder is Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, went into administration in mid-February 2022.
Studio Retail Group, which sells clothing, homeware, electricals and gifts, reported sales at £579m in the last financial year with a 2.5m customer base.
It was revealed that Studio Retail Group owed more than £80m when it collapsed into administration and was sold to Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group for just £1.
Administrators Teneo said the group owed £50m for a revolving credit facility and £3.1m for other facilities when it entered administration.
High Street retailer Sofa Workshop, which offered e-commerce as well as 16 bricks-and-mortar stores across the UK, collapsed this month with the loss of 77 jobs.
Appointed administrator PwC said supply chain and transport costs had contributed to trading losses and outweighed ‘significant revenues’.
The company said it was no longer taking orders but existing orders will be fulfilled.
The existing customer order book was sold to Timothy Oulton United Kingdom Ltd, part of the Halo Group, which is the owner of The Sofa Workshop.
In a statement the administrators said: "Given the cash flow position of the business, potential sale options were explored with the aim of a purchaser providing the funding required to continue to deliver the business plan and take the Company forward. However, no viable offers were received."
TM Lewin, established in 1898, fell into administration for the second time last month after it entered an insolvency process and was bought by US-owned Torque Brands and switched to an online-only model in the summer of 2020.
The shirtmaker, which employs around 50 staff, faced challenges caused by the fall in formal shirt purchases as consumers worked from home and restrictions on large events.
Prior to the pandemic, the company had grown to operate more than 150 shops worldwide.
Will Wright of appointed administrator Interpath Advisory said: “Over the pandemic, men’s apparel - and formalwear in particular - has been one of the hardest hit parts of the retail sector, as work-from-home measures and restrictions on events meant demand for suits and formal tailoring waned.”
He added: “Unfortunately, and despite the Company undergoing a significant restructuring at the start of the pandemic which saw it move to an online model, the impact on this famous British brand has been severe.”
It was last reported in The Times that Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, Marks & Spencer, Charles Tyrwhitt and Crew Clothing were all circling to buy T M Lewin.
J C Rook and Sons
J C Rook and Sons went into administration last month closing its chain of 11 stores and large online business and making 155 redundancies.
For more than 50 years, Kent-based family butchers, which was currently run by the third generation of Rooks, had survived many disruptions to the high street.
However, it said it couldn’t ride out the decline in trade caused by the Covid pandemic.
A production and distribution facility in Ramsgate and a food service facility in Shoreham also shut.
Dawnfresh Seafoods and R R Spink & Sons
One of the UK’s largest retail supplier of fish and seafood, Dawnfresh Seafoods and R R Spink & Sons were another retailer to go into administration last month.
Founded in 1973 and headquartered in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, the business operates seven fish farms across Northern Ireland and Scotland, with production and processing facilities in Uddingston and Arbroath.
Recently, the firm had invested in plant and systems upgrades to improve efficiency and reduce costs, however it continued to suffer from rising costs, overcapacity and cash flow issues.
Joint administrators FRP Advisory secured a sale of the Arbroath facility to Lossie Seafoods, while the subsidiary business Dawnfresh Farming will continue trading solvently.
The Uddingston facility, which was heavily loss-making, will close with immediate effect resulting in 200 redundancies.
AEO EU (American Eagle)
The US mens and womenswear brand, American Eagle, was due to return to UK retail with two store openings in London’s Carnaby Street.
It first made its debut with three stores in 2014 but pulled out in 2017.
However, plans were dashed after the brand’s US holding company, AEO EU, which holds the licence to trade the brand in the UK, went into liquidation in January.
The US owner of American Eagle ended the licence agreement over an unpaid debt of $7.7m (€6.75m) and lack of progress in meeting the terms of the original licence.
Trinity Group, which owns heritage menswear brands Gieves & Hawkes, Kent & Curwen and Cerutti, fell into administration at the start of the year.
It made the announcement after attempts to find a buyer for historic Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes failed.
The Chinese-owned upmarket fashion firm has now appointed FTI Consulting and R&H Services as joint liquidators.
The brands have now become subsidiaries and it is hoped the sale of these assets will repay Trinity’s creditors.
Luxury footwear brand, Steptronic, which is sold internationally in over 3,000 high street stores went into administration in March.
The Rushden-based business also has its own direct-to-consumer website.
Business advisory firm Kroll was appointed administrator following supply chain challenges.
Kroll joint managing director Jimmy Saunders said: “The retail sector has faced a number of well-publicised challenges and coupled with shipping and supplier delays and a legacy balance sheet debt, the company was unable to meet its liabilities.”
He added: “Any prospective buyers for the business are encouraged to come forward as soon as possible.”
Big Home Shop and Physioroom
The Burnley-based retailers collapsed in January.
Big Home Shop, which sells garden furniture, outdoor equipment and other furniture items via Amazon and other online marketplaces, said sales and costs were affected by shipment delays from China and it could not raise the extra finance required by lenders and creditors.
Physioroom, an online retailer of home exercise and injury protection equipment, was reliant on Big Home Shop for a number of services.
Interpath Advisory were appointed administrators of both companies and in February, the companies and their assets were bought by Nottinghamshire-based Kybotech Group.
Click It Local
East Suffolk online shopping scheme, Click It Local, fell into administration at the end of March after running out of capital.
The company launched as a virtual high street for local independent retailers, allowing shoppers to buy from local independent or high street shops through one payment and offer same or next day delivery.
It had 35 live stores in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Brighton, London and East Sussex.
A statement on Click It Local’s website said: “In what has been an increasingly challenging period, we have been working constantly over the last six months to secure the support and capital we need to continue in this effort.
“It has become apparent that we have exhausted all possible options. It is with very heavy hearts that we must sadly let you know that we will no longer be able to serve our cherished stores and customers.”