Oak Furnitureland rescued from collapse in pre-pack administration deal

Oak Furnitureland has been rescued from collapse in a pre-pack administration deal.

It is the latest struggling retailer to be pushed to the brink by the coronavirus crisis.

The chain, which opened its first store in 2010, has been bought by hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management for an undisclosed fee.

The new owners will undertake a review into the future of its 105 showrooms, declining to rule out job cuts and closures, as negotiations with landlords and suppliers take place.

But customers with outstanding orders will not lose out and any deposits already paid will be honoured, the company said.

Oak Furnitureland currently employs 1,491 people across its business and started reopening sites from Tuesday as part of a phased plan.

Davidson Kempner Capital Management and Deloitte completed the pre-pack administration on Monday evening – a fast-track system for rescuing struggling firms.

However, creditors including landlords and suppliers have been critical of pre-packs in the past for their secrecy, leaving many who are owed money to find out about the rescue only after it has happened.

It remains unclear how much creditors – including the taxman – will lose out, although a report prepared by administrators at Deloitte is due to be published within the next two months, under administration laws.

The Swindon-based company and its competitors have been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown, with non-essential retailers forced to close their doors – although online shopping operations could continue functioning.

Founder Jason Bannister, who was Oak Furnitureland’s biggest shareholder, was said to be supportive of the sale and will have no involvement in the business’s future.

The most recent accounts with Companies House show the company made a pre-tax profit of £9.7 million for the year to September 2017, down from £15.2 million a year earlier.

Coronavirus – Mon Jun 1, 2020
Shoppers are desperate to get back into stores for home improvements, leading to long queues at Ikea. (Yui Mok / PA)

Oak Furnitureland chief executive, Alex Fisher, who will remain with the business, said: “The deal announced … puts Oak Furnitureland on a stronger financial footing, enabling us to drive forward our clear plan for growth.”

Rob Harding, joint administrator at Deloitte, said: “We have been working closely with the management team under difficult market conditions to try and find a funding solution and the deal announced … is a positive one which secures the future of the business.”

Since the coronavirus lockdown was announced in March, chains in the UK including Monsoon and Le Pain Quotidien have gone through a pre-pack administration processes.

Elsewhere, Debenhams has called in administrators for the second time in a year, restaurant chain Carluccios was dragged out of administration in a £3.4 million deal, more than 100 Frankie & Benny’s sites are to close and fashion chain Quiz fell into administration.

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS