Paperchase, a design-led greetings card and gift retailer, is focused on customer service and enhancing its multichannel proposition, but the going has been tough of late.

Plagued by dwindling footfall and other pressures, Paperchase won creditor approval for a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) in 2019, which included the slashing of rents and closure of several stores. As part of the CVA process, the retailer also arranged additional funding to support its turnaround strategy.

But with the Covid-19 pandemic adding to the pressure on the retail sector, Paperchase had been trading  under a Notice of Intention to appoint administrators since early January 2021 as solutions were explored to ensure the future of the brand.

Following the appointment of PwC to handle the administration process, in the closing days of the month a substantial part of the business, including the brand name and ecommerce operation, was acquired by Aspen Phoenix NewCo (APN) in a pre-pack deal. APN is a shell company backed by private equity firm Permira Debt Managers, which has provided funds to Paperchase since 2015. The rescue deal means that around 90 to 100 Paperchase stores are on course to continue trading.

Underlining the pressures it had been facing even ahead of the pandemic, sales dipped 4.4% to £125.3m in the year to 2 February 2019 (2018 financial year), with the group’s pre-tax losses widening to £10.3m.

Innovation rating: 1

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