LONDON — In another blow to the British high street and to fashion retail jobs here, the administrators of the Oasis and Warehouse chains, which declared bankruptcy earlier in April, said all stores will close permanently, with 1,803 jobs lost.
Deloitte confirmed on Thursday that while Hilco Capital has purchased “certain stock and intellectual property assets,” the ailing fashion retail group could not be rescued as a going concern, and has ceased to trade. The Oasis and Warehouse brands sold through 92 stores, with an additional 437 concessions located in third-party retailers.
Rob Harding and Richard Hawes were appointed as joint administrators to the group on April 15. Deloitte said they carried out “a rapid assessment” of the costs associated with maintaining the business in the short-term in order to allow sufficient time to sell the business and/or reopen the stores after the COVID-19 lockdown.
On April 22, they decided to halt online trading temporarily “as a result of rising costs of fulfilling online orders and associated logistical challenges.” Following the online shutdown, Harding and Hawes said it became clear that offloading any part of the business as a going concern would not be possible, so they decided to accelerate the sale of some of the group’s assets.
Harding said COVID-19 has presented “extraordinary challenges that have devastated the retail industry. It is with great sadness that we have to announce a sale of the business has not been possible and that we are announcing so many redundancies today. This is a very difficult time for the group’s employees and other key stakeholders and we will do everything we can to support them through this.”
As part of the shutdown, The Idle Man Limited, a British online men’s wear brand that was purchased by the Oasis and Warehouse group last September, will also shut.
Before calling in the administrators, the group employed more than 2,000 people in total in the U.K. It laid off 202 of them earlier this month, and put the remaining staff on furlough due to the lockdown.
The group, which is headquartered in London, sold women’s wear under the brand Oasis; women’s wear and men’s wear at Warehouse; and men’s wear online at The Idle Man.
In the past few years, Warehouse, in particular, had tried to set itself apart from competitors with a series of high-profile collaborations under brand consultant Alasdhair Willis. During those years, Warehouse also embraced digital and pursued more streamlined collections that were constantly refreshed.
The group has been owned since 2009 by the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, which had purchased Oasis, Warehouse and other brands from Baugur, the acquisitive Icelandic group that went bust during the credit crisis of 2008.
Oasis and Warehouse are among a host of brands that have collapsed into administration or are taking the first steps in that direction. In most cases, these were troubled businesses looking for buyers and the impact of the coronavirus lockdown, store closures and a lack of appetite for buying fashion during quarantine, has pushed them over the edge.
According to Britain’s Centre for Retail Research, some 20,620 stores in the U.K. will shut in 2020, 27.1 percent more than last year. The CRR said that losses caused by a combination of store closures and businesses slimming down their workforce should total 235,704, 61.5 percent higher than in 2019.