Year's end brings fresh job fears for high-street workers

Close scrutiny of Christmas trading figures will decide the fate of many struggling chain stores

Thousands of retail jobs come under threat this week, in what will be the high street's most critical period of 2012. After a festive bloodbath, which saw Barratts, the shoe chain, axe 1,610 jobs, the Tobar Group, owner of Hawkin's Bazaar, appoint administrators, and La Senza, the lingerie chain, prepare to follow suit, other high-street names could be pushed over the edge.

Shops pay their rents in quarterly instalments. The last due date was Christmas Day, but public holidays mean that a clear picture of which chains were unable to pay will not emerge until later this week.

Those chains that did pay up but traded badly through Christmas could find they have a cashflow squeeze. A spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium said yesterday: "This is a critical time and more administrations are likely."

The consortium says that early Boxing Day trade figures look good – although discounting was the highest since 2008 – but it expects spending to drop in January. The trade body also expects that the number of retail jobs, so important in employing under-25s, will have fallen in the last three months of 2011. Between July and September, it found that retail employment was 0.8 per cent down on the same period in 2010, the equivalent of 5,780 full-time jobs.

On Friday, Deloitte, the Barratts administrator, failed to find a buyer for its concessions, which will now be closed. Barratts' 173 standalone shops are still up for sale. D2, the fashion chain based in Kilmarnock, closed 18 stores last week, resulting in 200 job losses. Past Times, the purveyor of retro-themed gifts, is expected to be one of the first to start the administration process this week. KPMG is believed to have been lined up as administrator.

La Senza will choose an administrator in the next few days. Firms have 10 days by law to make an appointment. The lingerie firm's UK franchise announced its collapse on 23 December, when former owner and Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis described himself as "incredibly saddened" by the news.

Blacks Leisure, which owns 208 Millets stores and 98 more under its own name, is under threat as it seeks a buyer. However, a number of parties have put in initial offers, so there are hopes that most of the 3,500 staff could see their jobs saved. Second-round bids are due later this week, with Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Sports Direct International thought to be among the interested parties.

Again, KPMG is the administrator. Such roles are hugely lucrative for accountants: PricewaterhouseCoopers racked up £120m in fees in less than a year when it started work on unwinding the European division of Lehman Brothers.

Over the next few weeks, retailers listed on the London Stock Exchange will reveal how they fared over Christmas. Their figures will be heavily scrutinised by investors.

Next and Clinton Cards are first up. Clinton has been tested, with the card market remaining broadly static for years at £1.5bn, as competition has increased. Next is expected to be reasonably upbeat. The chain was one of the top three performing FTSE 100 shares in 2011, defying market conditions and lack of disposable income.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...