The high street is hell – but the insolvency trade's booming

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Peacocks is latest to hit trouble, putting 11,000 jobs at risk – and keeping administrators busy

Dark days for Britain's high streets are becoming boom times for insolvency practitioners, who look set to pick up another windfall thanks to the debt-laden fashion chain Peacocks and the troubled gifts retailer Past Times.

In separate processes, both companies sought yesterday to enlist the services of the administrator KPMG, which has already secured lucrative fees for its work with other retailers over Christmas. The accountant was the adviser when the outdoor goods chain Blacks Leisure and the lingerie retailer La Senza were bought out of administration earlier this month.

By formally appointing KPMG as its administrator last night, the retro-themed retailer Past Times has put a further 500 staff and 51 stores at risk, after earlier closing 46 shops and making 507 workers redundant.

The Peacock Group could become retailing's biggest collapse since Woolworths was closed in January 2009 with the loss of 30,000 jobs. The company, which has 11,000 staff, 611 Peacocks stores and 394 Bonmarché shops, is the largest of the chains in recent trouble. Peacocks and Bonmarché are not yet in administration but have filed notices of intention and now have just 10 working days to deliver rescue deals.

Bonmarché, which has 2,000 staff, is likely to be sold out of pre-packaged administration this week to the private equity investor Sun European Partners. The outlook appears less certain for the 9,000 staff at Peacocks, which accounts for the bulk of its parent company's £240m of debt.

Peacocks has been in talks with 15 lenders about trying to restructure its borrowings. But Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 82 per cent owned by the state, has ended its involvement in the talks, bringing the situation to a head.

A spokesman for RBS said: "Each company restructure is judged on its own merits, but clearly the difficult conditions retailers face is an important factor. New investors willing to inject sufficient capital could not be found."

The Peacock Group confirmed the talks had ended without agreement being reached. A spokesman said: "To protect the business, while discussions with such investors are progressed, the directors have filed a notice of intention to appoint an administrator."

Even if new financing can be found, the retailer's debt mountain means a pre-packaged administration now seems almost certain.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas