440 TJ Hughes jobs saved in deal

Some 442 jobs were saved today after administrators of department store chain TJ Hughes announced an agreement to sell four stores to a housewares company.

Lewis's Home Retail, a company associated with Speke-based homewares group Benross, has acquired TJ Hughes' flagship store in Liverpool, together with stores in Eastbourne, Glasgow and Sheffield.

The completion of the sales will see all employees in these stores transfer to Lewis's Home Retail, administrators Ernst & Young said.

Liverpool-based TJ Hughes called in the administrators in June - putting 4,000 jobs at risk - after a difficult period of trading, as nervous consumers put off purchases of big-ticket items such as fridges and TVs.

Ernst & Young said it continued to seek a sale of the company's remaining business and assets, which includes 53 remaining stores.

TJ Hughes is one of a number of retailers to suffer at the hands of a consumer spending squeeze in the UK.

Habitat and fashion chain Jane Norman recently went into administration, while the likes of HMV and JJB Sports are shutting down stores across the UK.

Benross, also Liverpool based, supplies housewares, electrical, lighting, toys and leisure products to retailers across the UK. Lewis's is its retail arm.

Joint Administrator Tom Jack said: "We are delighted to have exchanged contracts on this deal, which saves 442 jobs and continues the TJ Hughes legacy in Liverpool, as well as in other locations across the UK."

TJ Hughes was previously owned by private equity group Silverfleet, which bought the company for around £70 million in 2003.

The retailer was founded in Liverpool in 1912 by Thomas Hughes. Its stores are still mainly located in the North of England.

It offers products across homewares, soft furnishings, beauty and fragrance, menswear, lingerie, toys and electrical items.