CHAIN store closures in the past two years have stripped UK high streets of more than 1,000 shops.
The retail sector is under growing pressure from rises in business rates and wages.
Shoppers also fell by 2.1 per cent last year as they buy more online. As the crisis deepens, big retailers are using a controversial insolvency procedure to cut costs.
Debenhams, Topshop owner Arcadia Group, Paperchase and Monsoon are among those using or expected to use company voluntary arrangements.
CVAs mean insolvent firms can agree new pay plans with creditors, not least in rents. But landlords claim more retailers are opting for them simply to cut costs.
Analysts also blame private equity ownership in the sector for many insolvencies. Stephen Springham, of estate agent Knight Frank, said: “Retailers need to be run as retailers by retailers, not as cash cows by financiers.”
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