Toy chain falls into administration

SpitfireThe UK's largest specialist toy and model chain has collapsed into administration, affecting around 400 workers.

ModelZone, which has 47 stores across the UK, and its wholesaling arm Amerang have appointed Deloitte as administrator after the retailer lost out to online competitors and suffered hefty losses on onerous shop leases.
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Deloitte said Modelzone gift vouchers would continue to be honoured but only towards 50% of the purchase price.

ModelZone, which has its headquarters in Lancing, West Sussex, is the latest retail casualty after furniture chain Dwell hit the wall last week after attempts to sell it failed, putting around 300 jobs at risk.
It is also understood that fashion retailer Ark, which has 17 stores primarily across the north of England, has lined up administrators, while 150-strong clothing chain Internacionale has filed a notice to appoint Ernst & Young.

Deloitte said it was seeking to "preserve jobs" at ModelZone and secure a sale of the business as a going concern.

ModelZone founder David Mordecai, who is chief executive of Hawkin's Bazaar parent Tobar Group, is reportedly preparing to launch a rescue bid for the chain. He launched the business in 1987 after he bought Brighton-based Model Aerodrome, rebranding it ModelZone as he expanded the chain.

Richard Hawes, joint administrator and partner in Deloitte's restructuring services practice, said: "ModelZone has historically been profitable, however in recent years the company entered into leases for new stores that proved to be loss making.

"This, coupled with the growth in online competition, has resulted in ModelZone generating losses over the last couple of years, which the board of directors has now concluded is unsustainable and sought the appointment of administrators."

Its wholesaling business, Amerang, is profitable, but sought the protection of administration following the collapse of its sister company ModelZone, according to Deloitte.

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Toy chain falls into administration

Administrators sounded the death knell for Woolworths in December 2008, leading to store closures that left 27,000 people out of work. Since its collapse former Woolworths stores have become a blight in many town centres and more than 100 of the large stores still lay vacant in January 2012.

Loyal customers didn't have go without the family favourite store for long however as it reappeared online as Woolworths.co.uk in 2009, after Shop Direct Home Shopping bought out the Woolworths name.

The greetings cards specialist became the latest highstreet casualty in May with 8,000 jobs on the line when it was forced it into administration. Its biggest supplier, American Greetings, then bought Clintons out of administration and put the retailer through a rebrand including a new logo and complete in-store revamps.

Its contemporary format includes new fixtures and fittings and easier to navigate stores, and will be rolled out to all 400 UK stores at the cost of £16million. Bosses aim to bring the brand back to profit within two years.

Poor sales in the run up to Christmas was the final nail in the coffin for several struggling chains, including lingerie retailer La Senza, which went bust in January 2012 with 146 shops and 2,600 staff. Kuwaiti retailer Alshaya bought part of the business, which saved 60 shops and 1,000 staff.

La Senza has been struggling in a similar way to other specialist shops such as Game and Mothercare, which have been hit by cut-price competition at supermarkets and have no alternative products to help shoulder losses.

Stricken retailer Blacks Leisure, which employed 3,600 staff across 98 Blacks stores and 208 Millets stores, went into administration in Janurary 2012 after failing to find an outright buyer.

Soon after its stores were bought by sportswear firm JD Sports in pre-pack deal - an insolvency procedure which sees a company being sold immediately after it has entered administration – which saw most of Blacks' £36 million of debt wiped out.

Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold in January when the group collapsed due to unsustainable debts, resulting in 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures. Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores, which continue to trade with 2,400 staff.

Peacocks collapsed under a £740 million net debt mountain in January 2012 in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths. Despite being sold out of administration to Edinburgh Woollen Mill in a deal that saved 380 stores and 6,000 jobs, administrators from KPMG were forced to close 224 stores with immediate effect. This lead to 3,350 redundancies from stores and Peacocks head office in Cardiff.

The high street name continues trading as bosses work to stabilise the situation, yet a further blow was dealt this month with news that the firm's pension fund is in £15.8 million shortfall as a result of the collapse.

Game buckled under its £85m debt pile in March 2012 and was placed into administration after being unable to pay a £21m rent bill. Administrator PwC immediately closed 277 shops, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. Soon after, investment firm, OpCapita bought 333 Game stores, saving more than 3,000 jobs.

Game's demise followed a string of profit warnings and the failure of nervous suppliers, including leading names Electronic Arts and Nintendo, to go on providing the latest games, further damaging poor sales.

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