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
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific