1,300 jobs lost as La Senza folds

 

Lingerie chain La Senza collapsed into administration today triggering 1,300 redundancies and the closure of more than 100 outlets.

Administrator KPMG said it had closed 84 stores and 18 concessions, resulting in more than half of the workforce losing their jobs.

But 1,100 jobs were saved when 60 of its stores were bought by an Arabian retail group Alshaya, which owns stakes in a number of British retailers including Next, Debenhams and Mothercare.

It bought the stores in a controversial "pre-pack" administration deal that allows the assets of companies to be snapped up while its debts are written off.

Alshaya said it would invest around £100 million in the business over the next two years through new products and store designs. It will run the stores as franchises after buying the exclusive rights to the brand in the UK from its US owners Limited Brands.

Mohammed Alshaya, executive chairman of Kuwait-based Alshaya, said: "We are delighted to have reached agreement to buy these La Senza stores - saving jobs, protecting a great brand for consumers and strengthening our UK presence and links.

"This is the first step in a long-term commitment to developing the La Senza UK business, which we believe has great potential."

Alshaya's operations are mainly overseas but it already has a limited presence in the UK after it opened frozen yoghurt Pinkberry in Selfridges and the Westfield centre in Stratford.

La Senza has fallen victim to recent tough trading conditions and the chain has been weighed down by leases agreed by sister lingerie chain Contessa, with which it merged in 2007.

Theo Paphitis, Dragons' Den star and former owner of La Senza, disclosed the pending deal on his Twitter feed over the weekend.

He said: "Good news and bad news re LaSenzaUK heard that Lion has done a deal to sell the business with about 60 shops to Alshaya group."

He added: "The bad news re lasenza is that the other 80 shops will be closed down or put in the hands of Admin KPMG with resulting job losses.Sad!"

Mr Paphitis bought the chain in 1998, revived its fortunes, and then sold his stake in the company to Lion Capital for £100 million.

Lingerie rival Ann Summers was reportedly interested in picking up part of the La Senza estate, as was Triumph and Limited Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret, but it now seems unlikely that they will pick up any of La Senza's business.

The locations of the 60 stores to be saved are not known.

PA

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