Now, virtual jumble sales

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The Independent Online

Consumers will soon have the opportunity to exploit the bargains thrown off by collapsed retailers through an online jumble sale for unwanted products.

Consumers will soon have the opportunity to exploit the bargains thrown off by collapsed retailers through an online jumble sale for unwanted products.

Gordon Brothers, the American group which helps out struggling shopkeepers, has already launched a website enabling businesses to buy and sell surplus stocks. Now it is poised to launch an equivalent market for shoppers eager to snatch up the goods of cash-strapped retailers.

The new website will reflect the difficulties suffered by traditional and online retailers. Recently, the most obvious "distressed retailer" looking to dispose of undesired inventory was Boo.com, the e-tailer that was forced to sell off its stock of surplus sportswear at a large discount.

The second website is part of a drive by Gordon Brothers to build a European business as strong as its American operations, which began in Boston 97 years ago specialising in the jewellery trade. These days the business has a range of services, including valuations of stocks and the purchase of unwanted products.

Although most of its work is with healthy companies, the firm has become associated with helping out the strugglers. Last year, by offering a better price for spare stock than traditional lenders, it was able to dispose of $5bn (£3.4bn) of stocks acquired from US companies. The business, which is virtually unknown over here, is known as asset redeployment in the US.

The company's first big deal in the UK came in March. It is understood to have acquired the entire stock of nine outlets belonging to Bhs, the store chain subsequently acquired by Philip Green, the retail entrepreneur. Among the other UK high-street retailers now limping is Arcadia, which recently announced a plan to axe its Principles for men chain and close 400 stores.

Gordon Brothers has recruited Andy Meehan, a former employee of Storehouse and chief executive of Co-operative Retail Services. He has joined the company to run their European operations.

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