Nearly 400 Jane Norman jobs to go

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Nearly 400 staff at fashion retailer Jane Norman are to lose their jobs after administrators failed to find a buyer for 33 stores.

Jane Norman, which employs 1,600 staff, shut its 94 stores and appointed Zolfo Cooper as administrator yesterday after it became the latest victim of the squeeze in consumer spending.

Zolfo said today it had been unable to find a new owner for 33 stores, impacting on 290 jobs, while 106 positions at its London head office will also be axed.

However, it has agreed to sell 33 stores to knitwear retailer Edinburgh Woollen Mill under a "pre-pack" deal that will see the Jane Norman name survive on the high street and will save 396 jobs at the shops in question.

Edinburgh is also in discussions with Zolfo about buying a further 28 stores in a move that could save hundreds more jobs.

In the meantime, the group's 95 concessions, which are mainly in department store chain Debenhams, will continue to trade while the administrator talks to the retailer about a possible sale.

If Debenhams decides to buy the concessions, it could save a further 496 jobs.

Some of the staff at the head office and Coventry warehouse are being kept on for the time being as the company prepares to wind down.

Jane Norman has suffered "severe cashflow difficulties" after cash-strapped consumers put off non-essential purchases and consumer confidence plunged amid fears over the strength of the economic recovery.

Clothes have also become more expensive as raw materials such as cotton have soared in price, and VAT rose to 20% from 17.5% in January.

The chain is understood to have asked its landlords last week to defer rent payments as its quarterly payments deadline loomed.

The company, founded in London in 1952, tried unsuccessfully to find a buyer in recent weeks.

Putting itself into administration may have speeded up the process by scrapping some of its £140 million debts but the process is controversial because creditors such as suppliers stand to lose some or all of the money they are owed.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill has a record of turning around troubled companies.

It bought 77 stores from the administrators for textiles business Rosebys in November 2008. They were merged with the assets of furnishings business Ponden Mill to create the 150-strong Ponden Home chain.