Menswear retailer Blue Inc is today closing almost a third of its stores in a bid to restructure the business for “profitable growth”.
The young fashion retailer has placed subsidiary A. Levy – which holds its leases – into administration after filing an intent to appoint administrators earlier in the month, as first revealed by Retail Week.
Blue Inc is shuttering 74 branches today, resulting in the loss of 560 jobs, but will keep the remaining 158 shops trading after buying the leases out of administration. The full list of store closures can be found at the bottom of this article. In total, 52 Blue Inc and 22 Officers Club stores will close.
Blue Inc chief executive Steven Cohen told Retail Week it was unfortunate staff had lost their jobs but said: “We had 60 to 70 underperforming stores and this was the best way of safeguarding 1,500 staff’s future.
“We’re a slimmed-down more profitable operation going forward, better able to withstand the challenges on the high street and focus on online and international sales.”
Cohen was keen to point out that the core of the business, including its brands, is unaffected by the A. Levy administration process and that shareholders remained supportive.
Blue Inc had eyed an IPO in 2014, hiring for a short period Sir Stuart Rose as chairman. But the retailer shelved the plans, and Cohen said Blue Inc shareholders would not be focused on any exit strategy for the next 12 months.
“We’ll be working closely with suppliers to ensure key partners can help deliver exciting ranges and help us achieve our goal of continuing to grow market share”
Steven Cohen, Blue Inc
He said Blue Inc would now “focus on driving the business, developing a close supplier community”.
“We’ll be working closely with suppliers in the coming weeks to ensure key partners can help deliver exciting and innovative ranges and help us achieve our goal of continuing to grow market share profitably,” said Cohen.
Cohen conceded that creditors, particularly landlords, would be left out of pocket but maintained the administration was the “best solution to the challenges of the high street and the significant growth of online”.
“There are negotiations to be had,” said Cohen. “There’s work to be done in the coming weeks to ensure our key suppliers are with us.”
Cohen said the fallout after the administrations and store closures of rivals Republic, USC and Bank had piled pressure on Blue Inc in recent years. He also said rising fixed costs were a strain, in particular business rates which had become a greater cost to the business than rents.
He noted that the administration had followed new government rules which call for a more open process, meaning the stores had been marketed for 10 working days before Blue Inc bought 158 back.
“We’ve had to go through a full public process, a formal process,” he said. “The business has been marketed to make sure it’s not a pre-pack. Others could make offers.”
Eight of the 74 stores had already been earmarked for closure as the leases had expired. An administration process, led by Leonard Curtis, was needed to ensure the closure of the remaining 66.
In its last filed accounts at Companies House Blue Inc reported a pre-tax loss of £1.1m in 2013/2014.
Blue Inc and Officers Club store closures
|Blue Inc (A-G)||Blue Inc (H-Y)||Officers Club|
|Belle Vale||Houghton||Golden Sq|
|Cardiff Lower Mall||Southend||South Shields|
|County Mall||Telford||Treaty Centre|
|Crystal Peaks||Trafford Pk||Westgate St|
|Ellesmere Port||White City|