Claire’s considers raft of UK shop closures as high street declines

Accessories business could join a growing number of big names to scale back on stores

Claire’s could join a growing number of recognisable high-street names to scale back its store estate. Photograph: John Keeble/Getty Images

Claire’s could join a growing number of recognisable high-street names to scale back its store estate. Photograph: John Keeble/Getty Images

 

Accessories group Claire’s is considering a raft of store closures as the troubled fashion accessories chain becomes the latest high-street firm to show signs of distress.

Reports say the company is working with restructuring firms in Britain regarding a number of options, one of which is thought to include a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), a controversial insolvency procedure used to shed under-performing sites.

Claire’s has more than 350 shops in the UK and dozens of concessions, according to its most recent accounts. It also has more than 40 outlets in Ireland – 14 of them in Northern Ireland – that are understood to be part of the British operation.

Hundreds of jobs could be at risk if the chain presses ahead with a CVA.

The news comes just days after the chain’s US parent company announced that it had emerged from Chapter 11 protection after filing for bankruptcy earlier this year. Investment funds Elliott Management and Monarch have seized control of the US arm in a painful restructuring.

Moving online

Claire’s could join a growing number of recognisable high-street names to scale back its store estate, as consumers increasingly shop online.

CVAs have hit the headlines this year after the procedure was used by the likes of New Look, Jamie’s Italian and Mothercare to shed sites and gain rent reductions.

It is understood that the talks are at a preliminary stage.

Fears that the UK chain could disappear from high streets mounted earlier this year after its US parent, Claire’s Stores Inc, filed for bankruptcy.

The US company announced last week that it had emerged from Chapter 11 protection, having restructured almost $2 billion (€1.7 billion) of debt.

However, Claire’s has previously stressed that its European operations will not be affected by the American business. – PA