Horne Bros overtaken by trading losses

DIRECTORS of the menswear retailer Horne Brothers put their company into administration yesterday as trading losses overcame the business.

Directors - led by Murray Gordon as chairman and David Niven as chief executive - threw in the towel even though they had discerned some improvement in trading in recent weeks.

A Manchester court appointed David Swaden and Philip Monjack of Leonard Curtis, better known as a liquidator, as administrators.

Charles Macmillan, of Leonard Curtis, said yesterday: 'The business has made very substantial losses and is basically insolvent.'

Horne has 37 outlets and employs about 250 people. Its target market was professional men aged 30 to 40.

Horne has no bank borrowings but Mr Macmillan said the company was in difficulty with trade creditors.

Accounts for the 14-month period to last October - Horne's first as an independent entity - show that the chain made an operating loss of pounds 2.8m. A spokeswoman for Leonard Curtis said the firm aimed to trade Horne Brothers out of trouble. About a third of Horne's sales are made on behalf of brand manufacturers. Horne takes a commission on such concession sales. Most of these suppliers are supporting the administrators.

The administration order comes just two years after directors bought Horne Brothers from Sears - the retailing concern that owns Selfridges.

It is thought Horne's exposure to the sale of men's suits made its position particularly difficult in recession.