Electricals retailer goes into administration
Electricals retailer PowerHouse went into administration on Wednesday after its New Zealand owner PRG pulled the plug on the chain.

Administrator BDO Stoy Hayward shut all 50 stores and will make 500 of the retailer's 650 employees redundant.

PRG, which bought PowerHouse in September 2003, blamed the chain's demise on UK supermarkets entering the sector and the expansion of competitors DSGi and Comet to out-of-town sites and on the internet.

PRG group chairman Jock Irvine said: 'We have done everything we can to turn PowerHouse around since the acquisition, but we have simply exhausted all options. The position for PowerHouse as the number three electricals retailer with less than 1 per cent market share is no longer sustainable.'

The downfall came just a month after the retailer launched new format Go Switch On (Retail Week, July 7) in a last-ditch effort to save the struggling business.

'This lifted sales and margins, but not sufficiently to warrant an investment in complete roll-out,' said Irvine.

A source close to the business, who asked not to be named, blamed PRG for the demise. He said: 'PRG bought a bad business. It installed a New Zealand chief executive and didn't take radical action quick enough. It could have had a better management in from the start.'

PowerHouse's recent history has been chequered by a rent dispute with its landlords, after it avoided paying rent through entering into a Company Voluntary Agreement, a loophole that gives businesses protection from creditors. PowerHouse chief executive Chris Onslow was unavailable for comment.