Buyers line up as Ciro Citterio goes bust a second time

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The Independent Online

It was second time unlucky for Ciro Citterio yesterday as the high street menswear chain collapsed into administration two years after it was rescued by an obscure group of Middle Eastern private investors.

The move comes less than two weeks after Dubai-based Trident Fashions, which acquired Ciro Citterio in June 2001, gave up on its mission of turning around the underperforming retailer and agreed to be acquired by Hilco, a company that specialises in restructuring failing businesses.

Despite its chequered history, Ciro Citterio, best known for its men's suits, has already attracted at least five potential takeover offers, its administrators, Kroll, said yesterday.

Andrew Pepper, a partner at Kroll, said Ciro Citterio was a "well-known high street retailing brand", adding: "It is not surprising that it has already attracted significant interest from third parties wishing to buy the business as a going concern."

A sale would safeguard the jobs of 1,000 staff employed across the company's 100-plus UK stores. Kroll said it would be business as normal for the shops while it sought a buyer.

Ciro Citterio is the second major high street name to call in the administrators in recent weeks, following in the footsteps of Powerhouse, the electrical retailer that went into receivership last month. Powerhouse was sold to the New Zealand-based Pacific Retail Group, safeguarding about 2,000 jobs.

At its peak, the Edgbaston-based Ciro Citterio was home to such high street names as Horne Brothers and Sweater Shop. Founded in 1973, it initially went into administration in March 2001 after a dispute among shareholders. Trident Fashions had big plans for the chain, injecting £12m to help revamp its slightly downmarket image and reposition the group in an increasingly competitive market. But the plan failed and the retailer racked up losses of £9.7m last year on sales of £65m.

Hilco, based in the US, said it called in Kroll in an attempt to save Ciro Citterio, which it believes could emerge from administration within six months.

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