Red or Dead and Sock Shop find buyers

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The Independent Online
Sock Shop, Red or Dead and Contessa, three subsidiaries in the failed Facia stores group, have been sold by receivers, helping to save more than 1,000 jobs.

The sales, announced yesterday, follow a separate purchase by Carlton International, the luggage manufacturer, of branches of Salisbury's, another part of Facia's former empire.

About 75 outlets in the Sock Shop chain, employing 500 staff, are being sold for a "substantial" but undisclosed sum to Jumper, a UK retail chain based in Carnforth, Lancashire. About a dozen shops were not included in the sale.

Red or Dead, one of the UK's leading fashion chains, has been sold back to its founders and former owners, Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway, preserving more than 100 jobs.

Contessa, the UK's largest specialist lingerie retailer, is being acquired by Chancerealm Group, owned by Theo Phaphitis. The deal safeguards some 400 jobs in 80 of the 120 outlets being sold.

Fifteen months ago Mr Phaphitis bought the Ryman stationery chain from KPMG, which was acting as receivers to the failed Pentos Group.

Tony Thompson, of accountants KPMG, lead receiver to Facia, said: "We have kept the stores open in the belief that this was vital to preserving the businesses. We have now been able to sell the bulk of the Facia stores in receivership and thereby save nearly 1,100 jobs.

"We only finished the negotiations late on Saturday evening after a long day of talks. We are very pleased to have saved so many jobs and preserve such well-known High Street names."

Fellow receivers Grant Thornton said on Saturday that Carlton International had bought 52 branches of the Salisbury's handbag, costume jewellery and suitcase chain for an undisclosed sum.

KPMG said that the purchase - a week after Swiss-based Mister Minit snapped up 39 stores - brought the total number of Salisbury shops sold to 91, with Grant Thornton still seeking buyers for around 80 more.

Grant Thornton said it understood that Carlton International intended to keep all 300 staff in the shops concerned, along with the Salisbury's name.

Grant Thornton partner Maurice Withall said: "We still have a number of offers of interest in the remaining stores and we will be entering into discussions with the interested parties next week."

Mr Thompson added that KPMG expected to sell Oakland, the men's fashionwear chain, by the middle of this week and also hoped to find a buyer for Torq, the jewellery business.

"We have now sold the bulk of the Facia Group retail outlets and it appears likely that secured creditors will be paid in full," he said.