230 jobs axed as Watt Brothers enters administration

Almost 230 people have lost their jobs after administrators were appointed at department store chain Watt Brothers.

It was announced on Friday that Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden, of KPMG, had been appointed as joint administrators of the business.

The firm, which has a flagship store on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow city centre, was incorporated in 1915 and sells a range of branded electrical, homeware and fashion products.

It also has a further 10 leasehold stores located across central Scotland.

Administrators said they had no option other than to make 229 of Watt Brothers’ 306 employees redundant with immediate effect.

The remaining employees have been retained to assist the sell-off of the company’s assets, including stock and property.

The administrators are said to be “rapidly exploring” whether an early sale of some of the business and assets can be secured.

Watt Brothers will continue to trade from the flagship store in Glasgow, with a stock clearance event beginning on Saturday.

The chain’s turnover had increased year-on-year, peaking at approximately £24 million in 2018.

But the increased revenue did not translate into profit and a strain on margins, coupled with rising competition from online and new discount retailers, resulted in a loss in 2018.

As trading losses continued into 2019, Watt Brothers attempted to secure new investment.

However this was unsuccessful and the directors took the decision to appoint administrators.

Blair Nimmo, joint administrator and UK head of restructuring at KPMG, said: “Despite the director’s tireless efforts to increase margins, cut costs and recapitalise the business, Watt Brothers continued to incur trading losses as a result of the well-publicised challenges being experienced across the retail sector.

“Ultimately this has led to the unfortunate demise of a well-known and highly-regarded business.

“We will be holding a stock clearance event, and are grateful to the remaining staff for their efforts and assistance at this difficult time.

“We are working closely with Skills Development Scotland, via their Pace team, and JobCentre Plus to support the staff who have been made redundant.

“We would encourage any party who has an interest in acquiring the business and its assets to contact us as soon as possible.”

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