Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Burberry to cut 500 jobs worldwide in £55m cost-saving drive

Burberry to cut 500 jobs worldwide in £55m cost-saving drive

Plan, which includes 150 UK head office posts, comes as sales slump in Covid-19 crisis

Sarah Butler
Wed 15 Jul 2020 09.07 BSTLast modified on Wed 15 Jul 2020 11.18 BST

Burberry employs 3,500 people in the UK.
Burberry is to cut 500 jobs worldwide, including 150 in its UK head offices, to slash costs by £55m after a slump in sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

Retail sales dived by 48% in the three months to the end of June, including a 75% fall in Europe and the Middle East, as countries closed shops and offices and severely limited travel to control the spread of Covid-19. Sales in the UK were particularly hard hit, with tourists staying away and stores remaining closed for longer than in Europe and Asia.

In the UK, where Burberry employs 3,500 people, the company said it would keep its headquarters in both Leeds and central London but would be cutting head office roles across numerous departments. It said jobs in stores and manufacturing were safe.

Outside the UK, no stores will close but the company said it wanted to “improve retail efficiency” with fewer staff in stores and cut back office space, with a shift to working from home in some areas.

Julie Brown, the chief operating officer of Burberry, said the company was also keeping its portfolio of 13 stores in Hong Kong “under review” after sales were hit by pro-democracy protests, followed by coronavirus. The territory now accounts for less than 3% of Burberry’s sales, down from 8%.

Burberry said it wanted to reinvest the savings in marketing activities including pop-up stores, digital campaigns, events and improved store displays.

The £55m savings drive comes on top of £140m of cost cuts already announced.

Brown said the company would be closing some offices outside the UK as it realised that staff could work just as well from home. She said: “One of the good things that has come out of covid is ways of working differently.”

The luxury British brand, best known for its trenchcoats and signature check, had previously cancelled its end-of-year payment to shareholders, worth about £120m last year, and has borrowed £300m via the UK government-backed business support scheme.

The 500 jobs being axed represent about 5% of the group’s global workforce. The restructuring, which will pool expertise within three new business units covering ready-to-wear, accessories and shoes, will lead to one-off costs of £45m.

Marco Gobbetti, the chief executive, said: “We are sharpening our focus on product and making other organisational changes to increase our agility and generate structural savings that we will be able to reinvest into consumer-facing activities to further strengthen our luxury positioning.”

The company said tourist travel, which generates strong sales for luxury goods companies, was “likely to remain negligible” for the time being while some stores remained closed or operating with reduced hours under coronavirus lockdown restrictions around the world.

Burberry said sales in established stores slid by 20% in June and it expected trading in the three months to the end of September to show a similar decline of 15% to 20%.

Gobbetti said: “Sales were severely impacted by the drop in luxury demand from Covid-19 and we expect it will take time to return to pre-crisis levels with the resumption of overseas travel.”

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

The Laco B-Uhr – A Flieger Watch Review

There are some watch designs that not only stand the test of time, but in the case of war, also transcend their original context to become a classic. Such a watch, the B-Uhr, the offspring of Germany and Switzerland’s leading watchmakers, has a noted history of design and production, but was employed for an infamous cause. The B-Uhren watches guided German bombers in their terrible campaigns of World War II with dropped bombs whistling through air to end in devastating consequence. The B-Uhr remains a formidable watch.

In 1935, Adolf Hitler announced his plans to reconstitute Germany’s Air Force and officially created the Luftwaffe. Germany had been building its aviation forces, decidedly military in purpose and in violation of WWI’s Versailles Treaty, but this buildup had proceeded ostensibly for civilian purposes. With his power consolidated, Hitler shrugged off all pretense and announced Germany’s resumption of military procurement. Prior to 1935, the Heinkel He 111 bomber supposedly existed as a transport plane just as the National Socialist Party supposedly sought to establish peace and prosperity. Though few (including watchmakers) knew it at the time, Germany was preparing for war.

Schematic-WFThe RLM (Reichs-Luftfahrtministerium), responsible for aircraft development, also sought a commensurate time piece for its bomber navigators. The 1935 conceptual designs first specified an hour angle indication like the Lindbergh watch (see here), but this specification was dropped, and standard criteria emerged, making the B-Uhr instantly recognizable.

These watches were big. 55mm big. The size accommodated large hand-wound movements typically used in pocket watches, but the B-Uhr was always to be a watch for the wrist. Each one used a Breguet balance spring. Inside, the movement was surrounded by an iron core, making the B-Uhr anti-magnetic – a must for aviation. To correct for time discrepancies, the movements were capable of stopping the central seconds hand by pulling the crown, or hacking, and the oversized diamond or onion crown could be operated with gloves on the hand. A very long, double-riveted leather strap, long enough to go over the leather flight jacket, held the B-Uhr in place.

The large size made them unambiguously legible and their black dials with white Arabic numerals further aided the task of precise reading. The flame-blued sword hands were covered in luminous material as was the distinguishing upwards-orientation triangle or arrow at the twelve o’clock position, accompanied by two dots on the Type A models. The initial Type A model had only an outer chapter ring, but the later type B (starting in 1941) had an outer ring for minutes/seconds and an inner ring for hours. Each case had FL23883 engraved on the left side. FL designated flieger, and 23 identified the watch as a navigation watch. The snap-off case back had the following identifying information on its inside: type (Bauart), production number (Gerät-Nr.), movement (Werk-Bez.), order number (Anforderz), and manufacturer (Hersteller). The RLM and its partner watch manufacturers produced a novel design, which would attain cult status.

B-Uhren is an abbreviation for Beobachtungs-uhren, literally Observation watches. B-Uhr is singular, and B-Uhren is plural. The B-Uhren were property of the Luftwaffe, not the navigators. The navigator was issued his watch before flight, and then returned the watch after completing the mission. Navigators received a signal beep from the airbase, which in turn set its chronometer to the standard time of the German Naval Observatory (Deutsche Seewarte), and if the navigator’s time was off, the hacking mechanism allowed for adjustment. An accurate watch was necessary for navigation, so all the B-Uhren watches were regulated and tested to the highest chronometer standards of the Deutsche Seewarte in Hamburg. Bomber navigators peered over the navigation table, their B-Uhren at the ready, and plotted course, copied astronomical fixes and noted events on the map. The B-Uhr was a consummate navigational aid.

Five manufacturers – four German and one Swiss – supplied the B-Uhren. In Germany, A. Lange & Söhne, Wempe, Lacher & Company/Durowe (Laco), and Walter Storz (Stowa) produced the watch. Wempe and Stowa used Swiss movements; Wempe settled on the Thommen cal. 31, and Stowa used the Unitas cal. 2812. Lange used its big cal. 48 and then its cal. 48.1, and Laco used its (Durowe) cal. 5 – the only two companies to use in-house German movements. When Wempe purchased the Chronometerwerk in Hamburg in 1938, it gained a significant increase in production capacity, and to assist the limited production faced by Lange and Laco, Wempe assembled watches for them. To meet demand, Lange also sent ébauches and cases to a variety of other manufacturers for assembly and regulation. In smaller numbers, the Swiss International Watch Company IWC who supplied watches to both Axis and Allied forces, manufactured the B-Uhr (cal. 52T S.C.) for the Luftwaffe. These five companies were the only ones to make the B-Uhr.

Today, the available Lange or Wempe B-Uhren are vintage watches from the war, and if you can find one, they come with hefty price tags. IWC’s Big Pilot watch is an evolution from the B-Uhr, having its predecessor’s DNA, but sporting an adapted design. This is a watch made for aviation, and as such, retains an anti-magnetic feature – the only current watch to do so. Unlike its no-frills B-Uhr predecessor, the Big Pilot elevates the navigational concept to a higher echelon of quality and function, providing a luxury timepiece (see here).

Stowa, now owned by watchmaker Jörg Schauer, offers a nice homage to the B-Uhr in a dressier version (see here). The case is polished, the movement decorated, visible through a transparent case back, and the 40mm size is the smallest of this group. They also offer a date window option. Stowa makes a fine watch, but be prepared to wait for its arrival – demand far exceeds production.

Laco offers a wide range of movement choices, providing a greater range of affordability, but its watches featuring ETA and hand winding movements are the watches of note. In these, Laco produces what might be termed a reproduction, having carefully recreated the design of the original watch down to the smallest detail, from the dial design to the FL23883 engraved on the case’s side to the inner case back information ingeniously moved to the outside. These Laco watches measure 42mm and 45mm (see here). Both Stowa and Laco offer flame blued hands, sapphire crystal, riveted leather straps, superb luminosity and Type A and B models. Of the original manufacturers, IWC, Stowa and Laco each offer a contemporary B-Uhr choice.

Monday, 13 July 2020

‘282 Portobello Road’ / VIDEO:London reopening 2020 | Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill

282 Portobello Road
W10 5TE Londen
     Co-owners Claudia Vispi and Paul Caren are style veterans.
     282 provide classic quality vintage while focusing on English sartorial elegance.
     Leather, tweed, fur, recycled wax, tail coats, ballgowns, and quality footwear. A range of new         English handmade fur felt hats and tweed caps also stocked.
    Styling and etiquette is all part of the 282 experience.

IN CONVERSATION: Claudia Vispi, co-founding owner of ‘282 Portobello Road’

In the myriad of shops and stalls in Portobello Road, there is nothing quite like the one situated below the Westway.  With its enticing cerise shop front and prêt-a-porter vintage on display, you are immediately transported into a portal of sartorial history.  Aptly named 282, after the door number on the iconic street, the shop has recently become a haven for collectors, design houses, dandies, debutants, and everyone else in between; all after that one-of-a-kind piece for all occasions.

It’s Rude To Stare recently sat down with co-founder Claudia Vispi for an engaging conversation about fashion and inspiration. Wearing the finest Edwardian night-gown, Vispi invited me in to her flat in London’s Chelsea, placed the Jack-Russell on her lap, poured us both a warm leafy tea and continued as such…

What is the concept behind 282?

It was a natural evolution from our previous project; we’ve always made something beautiful out of nothing. By ‘we’, I mean myself and my business partner Paul Caren, we made beautiful garments out of natural, recycled fabrics.  We’d use odd fabrics for simple silhouettes. The hunt for those fabrics would inevitably lead us to find other wildly beautiful things, and here we are with the boots, the leather and the fur, the tweed, the Gentry style.

And may I ask, what is the fascination with the English history, and adherence to British style?

Well, it probably stems from my surroundings, something as very simple as being born in Chelsea to Italian parents, you know? I totally absorb my environment. I spent a lot of my youth just hanging out in the V&A, developing an eye for beauty.

Was there ever a particular time when you were consciously aware of the impact that clothes make?

I was very lucky enough, growing up, to be living next to the most incredible people. It was the punk era, and they were musicians, producers, lyricists, and though I was too young to be a punk, I found it utterly fascinating. I used to get a thrill from watching them. And then there was New-Wave after that; so music was my first influence. This period in particular, when it was all happening and everything became more expressive. I was VERY lucky, in fact.

Was there anyone in particular that stands out from that period that has inspired you in any way?

Oh, without a doubt, Viv. I mean, you know? The design is an art form; I’m talking about the early days of Vivienne Westwood. The clothes had feeling, it was fantastic. See, that’s cutting-edge as opposed to classic, but what I do now is put classic things on cutting-edge people. When you place clothes out of context, it makes for sublime style.

And who are your regular clientele?

The fabulous, the rich in life, the fearless, the individual, the creative; from rock-stars to Earls, they all stop by.

What was the last thing that made you stop and stare?

I don’t know if I can answer that, I see amazing things all the time. In restaurants, in my shop as they come in, the wonderful people of the Portobello Road. It doesn’t often happen, but I like it when I’m shocked. Like when I see an upstanding member of the community being rather louche. It happens often. Other than that, it’s usually the  beautiful things that come across my eyes every day.

282 Portobello Road

London, W10


Monday – Sunday


Thursday, 9 July 2020

The Crown to be extended for sixth season on Netflix

Imelda Staunton will take over as the Queen in the fifth series. Photograph: AP

The Crown to be extended for sixth season on Netflix

Royal drama was due to end after series five but show’s creator says it will continue

Sarah Marsh
Published onThu 9 Jul 2020 18.45 BST

The critically acclaimed royal drama The Crown will not abdicate just yet: the Netflix production that was due to end after the fifth series is to be extended for another season.

The show’s creator and writer, Peter Morgan, has confirmed it will continue, after fans were left disappointed that more episodes were not on the cards.

In January fans were told the show, watched by more than 73m households worldwide, would end with series five, but Morgan has now said that to do justice to the “richness and complexity” of the story he will “go back to the original plan and do six seasons”.

He said: “To be clear, series six will not bring us any closer to present day – it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”

The sixth and final season will go into the early 2000s, but the number of episodes or exact storylines it will cover is not yet known.

The fourth series of the drama, featuring Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher and Olivia Colman returning as the Queen, airs later this year, and will include the introduction of Diana, Princess of Wales, played by Emma Corrin.

Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vice-president of original content, said: “The Crown keeps raising the bar with each new season. We can’t wait for audiences to see the upcoming fourth season, and we’re proud to support Peter’s vision and the phenomenal cast and crew for a sixth and final season.”

In January Netflix announced that Imelda Staunton would take over the role of the Queen from Colman in the fifth series. Colman replaced Claire Foy to make her debut as the monarch in the third series, which launched in November 2019.

The Phantom Thread star Lesley Manville will play Princess Margaret in the fifth series, following in the footsteps of Vanessa Kirby and Helena Bonham Carter in the role of the Queen’s sister.

At the time when the series was curtailed to five series, it was speculated that this meant it would not include contemporary problems faced by the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to step down from royal duties.

While The Crown was critically acclaimed in its first two series and won further awards for its third, some of the excitement around it seemed to have waned. It did not appear in a list Netflix published of its most-watched shows of 2019 in the UK.

But the award-winning show, one of the most popular on Netflix, has been described as part of the “global cultural zeitgeist” by Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix. The cast from season three won the Screen Actors Guild award for best ensemble in a drama series, and Colman won the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama series. The Crown has so far won 144 award nominations.

Earlier this year, Sarandos praised the series, saying: “Thanks to creator and writer Peter Morgan and a phenomenal cast and crew, the show’s popularity grows with each new season and, as the recent SAG and Golden Globe Awards demonstrate, its quality remains unsurpassed.”

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

GANT bio based Sustainability- It's complicated but not impossible

 GANT Sustainability
We have set the following three targets:
100% of our cotton will be sustainably sourced by 2022. All conventional cotton will be replaced with more sustainable alternatives such as Better Cotton Initiative, organic cotton, recycled cotton, regenerative cotton and transitional cotton.
By 2030, we will only source cotton through the best available farming practices at hand to support our overall vision.
100% of our key materials will be sustainably sourced by 2025 by converting all key materials from conventional to more sustainable.

Our vision is to make the world a more beautiful place. In keeping with GANT’s belief that we should Never Stop Learning, we’ve adopted a philosophy of creating products that are premium, preppy, timeless and designed to have a long life. To celebrate our heritage of being a bio-based business, we will continue to source traceable and sustainable plant-based materials globally. This is how we can educate ourselves and act on our ethical, environmental and social responsibilities. GANT will be a brand known and loved for improving waterways in the world. We believe this conscious, sustainable approach to designing beautiful products is the future of good business.

 GANT is a Swiss clothing brand of American heritage launched in New Haven in 1949. The brand has since then been further developed, being influenced by European styles, and is now a global clothing business. Gant's products are available from retailers and at signature Gant stores throughout the world, and offer clothing for men, women, boys, girls and babies. Home, Time, Fragrance, Footwear, Underwear and Eyewear licenses are also incorporated under the Gant brand name. By 31 January 2008, Maus Frères S.A. of Switzerland, had acquired 95.6% of the Gant Company AB shares, which completed the take-over.

The beginning of Gant
Bernard Gantmacher arrived in New York in 1914, an immigrant from Ukraine. He went straight to the garment district in Manhattan and secured his first job as a collar-sewing specialist in a downtown factory. A few years later, he met his future wife, a button and buttonhole specialist who worked for the same company. Their sons, Marty and Elliot, along with a cousin, started a family business in New Haven, CT, acting as a subcontractor, manufacturing shirts. GANT is pronounced GJANT.

1941 to 1948
Mark Zumerch sold fine shirts to respected private labels in America, including Manhattan Shirts, J. Press and Brooks Brothers. Captain Marty Gant mustered out of the air force in 1945. Drawn to the family business, his brother Elliot quit the Navy and joined him in 1947. They continued sales to other companies, but a small “G” sitting next to the union on the shirt showed the manufacturer.

The 1900s
Gant dress shirts were de rigueur for American male students in the early and mid 1960s. The shirts were worn open-collar and without necktie, with the top button open to reveal the roll of the collar, except when the formality of an occasion demanded otherwise. The front of the shirt buttoned along a double-truck hem, a feature that became absolutely requisite for any brand targeted at adolescents and young men. Other manufacturers offered similar product, but only Sero, another premium-priced line, matched the Gant style, differentiating its shirts from the former solely by omission of the distinctive Gant loop at the top of the back pleat, and sometimes dispensing with the double pleat down the center back in favor of single pleats on the back shoulders. Sero was considered to be the only alternative truly equivalent in prestige to Gant in the youth market. All other brands, for whatever reason, clearly identified themselves as knockoffs by failing to precisely conform to the Gant cut. Beginning in the spring of 1964, Gant participated in the Madras craze, offering shirts in both the proprietary Gant cut and other styles.

Launching an American sportswear brand
Gant’s initial customer was the Paul Stuart store in New York City. The first shirts created offered button-down collars with sportswear fabrics. These were considered ‘preppy’ and sold well in college shops all over the USA. The Gant approach was to sell through the most prestigious store in town. If they weren’t accepted immediately, they waited. And, after a difficult first year, sales took off.[citation needed] Advertising was concentrated in upscale publications such as The New Yorker.

Further growth
As Gant became known as a designer label in the US, it began opening shops in a number of department stores across the country. At one point in the 60’s, Gant was the second-largest shirt maker in the world. The Gant family sold the business in 1967. Since then, the company has changed hands several times. In 1979, Gant Corporation became a subsidiary of apparel manufacturer The Palm Beach Company.In 1980/1981, Gant entered the international market when Pyramid Sportswear of Sweden was given the right to design and market the Gant brand outside the U.S. Initially, Pyramid only offered the Gant label in Sweden but quickly expanded internationally. In 1995, Phillips-Van Heusen acquired the Gant brand in the U.S. from bankrupt Crystal Brands, Inc. of Connecticut, a sportswear manufacturer. In November, 2010 - Gant recently returned home to New Haven when it opened a new retail store located on the corner of Broadway and York.

Gant AB of Sweden
PVH sold its Gant operations in 1999 to Pyramid Sportswear of Sweden, in which PVH held a 25% stake, for $71.000. Ironically, as the brand's international licensee, Pyramid had already opened a Gant flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue in 1997. Pyramid Sportswear, which was to become Gant Pyramid AB, eventually turned Gant into a global brand. In the spring of 2006, Gant became a public company and was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange’s O-List until it was delisted March 20 and bought by Maus Frères. For the fiscal year 2006, Gant Pyramid AB reported total revenues of SEK 1,295 billion (ca. US-$ 167.7 mio) and a net income of SEK 162.6 million (ca. US-$ 23.6 mio). As of 2007, Gant is established in 73 countries and their products are available at select retailers and 298 Gant stores worldwide, 18 of which are directly operated by Gant AB. The company plans to open another 60 stores in the course of the year and to re-open its renovated Fifth Avenue store in September 2007. The Gant fashion collections are subdivided into the main line G.N.H. (Gant New Haven), the younger RUGGER sportswear line and the more trendy 'GANT By Michael Bastian' collection. The 'Yale Co-op' line just include some classic Yale shirts. Gant have also a Kids line, as well as Home, Fragrance, Eyewear and Time.

The 500-year-old mystery of Christopher Columbus - BBC REEL

For centuries, Christopher Columbus has been celebrated as the brave explorer who 'found' the New World. But, his treatment of indigenous communities has often been left out of the history books. As awareness grows, many of his statues are being torn down.
Now, a new DNA analysis might help researchers

Monday, 6 July 2020

John Lewis to close several stores as Harrods cuts 700 jobs / Harveys and TM Lewin fall into administration with loss of 800 jobs.

John Lewis to close several stores as Harrods cuts 700 jobs

John Lewis staff unlikely to receive 2021 bonus because of coronavirus crisis

Sarah Butler
Wed 1 Jul 2020 12.27 BSTLast modified on Wed 1 Jul 2020 12.50 BST

Harrods says ‘necessary social distancing requirements to protect employees and customers is having a huge impact on our ability to trade’. Photograph: Hollie Adams/Getty Images
John Lewis has confirmed it is to close a number of its shops and Harrods is cutting 700 jobs as department stores reel from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to the retailer’s staff, the John Lewis chairman, Sharon White, also said the store chain is to shut down a London office and will probably ditch the annual bonus paid to all staff, which is regarded as a key part of the employee-owned group’s culture.

Harrods has told its staff that one in seven of its 4,800 staff would be affected by job cuts because of the “ongoing impacts of this pandemic”.

In a note to Harrods staff, the chief executive, Michael Ward, blamed the cuts on social distancing and lack of tourists: “The necessary social-distancing requirements to protect employees and customers is having a huge impact on our ability to trade, while the devastation in international travel has meant we have lost key customers coming to our store and frontline operations.”

Jobs in parts of the store that remain closed, including beauty services and cafes, are expected to be among those to go.

The John Lewis chairman told staff the retailer was in talks with some of its landlords about “ending some leases” and was trying to renegotiate the terms of some others. White said the closures would mean job losses and also warned that the group is highly unlikely to pay a bonus next year as it hoards cash.

White had warned previously that John Lewis might not reopen all of its stores. However, in a letter to staff first reported by the Evening Standard, she confirmed the plans. The shops likely to close were not named.

The group, which also owns the Waitrose chain, has reopened 22 of its 50 department stores since non-essential retailers were given the green light to restart on 15 June. Plans to open a further 10 were announced today, including Oxford Street in London on 16 July. The group has confirmed that more outlets will reopen in future. A handful are expected to be closed permanently.

In the letter, White said: “The difficult reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now. As difficult as it is, we now know that it is highly unlikely that we will reopen all our John Lewis stores. Regrettably, it is likely that there will implications for some [staff members’] jobs.”

John Lewis said no final decision had been made and any details would be shared with staff by the middle of July.

She said that trade had not been as bad as feared but the company needed to act to preserve cash as it expected trading to be tougher in the coming month. “There is clearly a lot of uncertainty but as things stand, it is hard to see the circumstances where we will be able to pay a bonus next year. I know this will be a blow for partners who have made sacrifices these past months,” White wrote.

M Lewin folds
At the opposite end of the retail scale, shirt maker TM Lewin – a top 250 retailer in the RXUK Top 500 – has also announced that it is withdrawing from the high street, closing all 66 of its stores and moving operations online.
In a statement, Resolve, which has been hired to restructure the retailer, said: "This acquisition secured the future of the brand at a time of unprecedented uncertainty within the retail sector. After considerable review, and due to the many issues currently being experienced by high street retailers, it has been determined that the future of the TM Lewin brand will be online-only."
The shirt makers assets have been sold to Torque Brands – and investment company set up by Simba Sleep co-founder James Cox and backed by Allan Leighton, former Asda CEO and Paul Taylor, who previously ran Harrods – in a pre-pack deal, which doesn’t include the retailer’s stores.
TM Lewin will be added to Torque’s growing stable of failing retail brands the company is looking to purchase and roll out globally as online-only retailers. Torque plans to take brands that have cache, but which are financially too insecure to survive the COVID-19 crash, and run them more economically by using the same IT, manufacturing and distribution systems to reap economies of scale.
A spokesman for Torque says: “The decision to significantly reduce the scale of the business in order to preserve its future will regrettably result in job losses as a direct result of the closing of the store network as we right-size the business."
Currently 650 of TM Lewin’s 700 staff are on the government-funded furlough. It is thought some 600 will lose their jobs.

Harveys and TM Lewin fall into administration with loss of 800 jobs

A further 1,300 jobs are at risk as more high street chains succumb to Covid-19 pandemic

Tue 30 Jun 2020 16.47 BSTFirst published on Tue 30 Jun 2020 14.12 BST

Furniture chain Harveys and shirt maker TM Lewin have both called in administrators on another bleak day for UK retailers, with the immediate loss of more than 800 jobs and more than 1,300 others at risk.

The collapse of the two familiar retail names is another blow for high streets already reeling from the closure of a number of of Debenhams outlets and the collapse of fashion retailers Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley, Oasis and Warehouse.

Scottish retail chain M&Co, which employs 2,700 people at 262 stores, has appointed advisers from Deloitte to consider options for the business, including a possible sale via a pre-pack administration, as first reported by Sky News on Tuesday.

Shirt maker TM Lewin, which has not reopened any stores since the lockdown on “non essential” retailers was lifted earlier this month, said all 66 of its outlets would be permanently closing with the loss of about 600 jobs, after the group called in administrators on Tuesday.

Administrators from PwC are seeking a buyer for about 20 Harveys stores and its three manufacturing sites. But 240 redundancies were made immediately at the chain and more than 1,300 jobs may go if a buyer cannot be found.

All its stores will continue to trade for now, but industry watchers believe a buyer is unlikely to materialise. The retailer has been struggling for years and is also heavily reliant on sister chain Bensons for Beds, with which it shares several sites.

Bensons was also put into administration on Tuesday. However, it has been bought out in a prearranged deal by its private equity owner Alteri Investors, with the aim of saving between 150 and 175 of the chain’s 242 stores, its Huntingdon manufacturing operation, and nearly 1,900 jobs.

The buyout involves new investment of £25m into Bensons by Alteri. All current Harveys and Bensons orders will be honoured by the ongoing business.

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Zelf Hussain, joint administrator at PwC, said: “The group had been facing increasingly challenging trading conditions in recent months, in particular the Harveys furniture business. This has resulted in cashflow pressures, exacerbated by the effects of coronavirus on the supply chain and customer sales. It has not been possible to secure further investment to continue to trade the group in its current form.”

Harveys and Bensons’ parent group appointed administrators from PwC on Tuesday morning after a tough period of trading for furniture retailers, which were suffering from a slowdown in the housing market and low consumer confidence even before the government-imposed high street shutdown forced them to temporarily close stores in March.

“The restructuring, whilst obviously difficult for Harveys’ employees, will safeguard more than half the group’s workforce and is a necessary milestone on Bensons’ journey to becoming a market-leading beds retailer with a strong omnichannel presence,” said Gavin George, the chief executive of Alteri.

“We will continue to work closely with the management team on the turnaround of the business which we believe can have a bright future, despite the challenges facing the retail industry, including the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Alteri bought Harveys, which was founded in 1966, and Bensons, which has been in business for 70 years, in November last year.

TM Lewin owner Stonebridge Private Equity, whose vehicle Torque Brands took over TM Lewin in May, has bought back the brand’s remaining assets, including its online business, in a pre-pack deal.

Stonebridge said it had formed the view that TM Lewin was no longer a viable going concern in its current format.

The group did not reopen stores last month as the company said it relied on services such as measuring which were not possible to deliver with physical distancing.

“The business is unable to sustain current rental agreements for its store network across the country. With all stores still remaining closed due to social distancing guidelines, our customers have been unable to shop in store for the past three-plus months; this has forced our hands to focus on a radical overhaul of the business model, rebuilding from the ground up in a fashion we deem fit for the years to come,” Torque said in a statement.

Thousands of job losses were announced in other sectors too this week, including:
Up to 700 jobs at Harrods
About 600 workers at shirtmaker TM Lewin
Up to 900 jobs at management consulting firm Accenture
300 roles at Virgin Money, Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank
1,700 UK jobs at plane-maker Airbus
And 1,300 crew and 727 pilots at EasyJet
WH Smith, Bensons for Beds, Wrights Pies, tableware-maker Steelite International, the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool and Norwich Theatre Royal have also announced plans to reduce staff.