The Officers Club discount men’s wear chain is the latest British retailer to be rescued from administration, the country’s equivalent of Chapter 11.
This story first appeared in the December 30, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Time C 1215 Ltd., a company backed by David Charlton, chief executive officer of The Officers Club, bought the business and 118 of the chain’s 150 U.K. stores for an undisclosed sum last week. The chain was placed into administration on Dec. 23 following what its administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers, called “difficult” trading conditions.
“We are delighted to be able to announce this sale, resulting in the preservation of over 1,000 jobs, particularly at this challenging time in the retail sector,” said Ian Green, joint administrator and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The 32 stores not included in the sale will be closed with immediate effect, PricewaterhouseCoopers said.
Meanwhile, USC, a U.K. fashion retailer that carries streetwear brands including Fred Perry, Diesel and Levi’s, on Monday filed for administration, according to British press reports. USC had been owned by West Coast Capital, the Scottish entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter’s investment vehicle, which acquired the company in 2004.
After the business was placed into administration, Dundonald Holdings Ltd., another company controlled by Hunter, bought 43 of the chain’s 58 U.K. stores, which employ about 1127 staff, along with the USC brand name and Web site. The company’s administrator, PKF, will temporarily operate the remaining 15 stores, according to the reports. Spokesmen for PKF and West Coast Capital could not be reached for comment late Monday.
USC is the latest in a string of U.K. retailers to fall into administration — Adams, a children’s wear chain, last week filed a notice intention to apply for administration, while the CD and DVD retailer Zavvi entered administration Dec. 24. And the 99-year-old British retailer Woolworths will close all of its stores by Monday after administrators failed to find a buyer for the beleaguered general store chain.