Monsoon and Accessorize propose to close ‘dozens’ of stores

Fashion retailer Monsoon Accessorize Limited is set to be the latest casualty of the high street, with administrators being brought in to discuss plans for the future of the company.

Sky News reported that “dozens” of the combined company’s 270 sites could be axed. The largest stores for both brands are said to be at risk. The brands have sites across Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, as well as at shopping centres and smaller towns and cities across the UK. It is still unconfirmed how many or which sites will be closed.

Deloitte has reportedly been appointed to help arrange a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), a controversial insolvency practice which involves closing unprofitable stores and arranging better rent deals with landlords on other sites.

The CVA process has been used for other casualties of the high street including Mothercare, New Look, Debenhams and Byron.

Monsoon Accessorize Limited is owned by its founder Peter Simon, via its ultimate parent company Balmain Invest & Trade Inc, based in the British Virgin Islands. The two brands were merged in 2016, though retain separate offerings as well as womenswear and childrenswear offerings.

Its most recently published accounts, for the year to 26 August 2017, the company said they were trading in an “extremely difficult environment” and had seen a steady decline in footfall to stores. Online sales were not yet offsetting the decline in store sales, a trend which seems to have continued. Then, the company reported turnover of £310m and a loss before tax of £3.2m.

Despite this loss, the highest paid director that year was given an annual salary of £820,000, up from £486,000 the year before. During this year,the company reported a total staff number of 1,667, though it is unclear how many staff the company currently has.

A spokesman for Monsoon Accessorize told Sky News: “The UK retail trading environment is tough and we are continuing to look at options to reduce our overall costs as we restructure the business in the UK and internationally.

“We have made no secret of the fact that we have steadily reduced our store portfolio in recent years and shall continue to do so as leases expire.

“We are looking at options to accelerate these store closures.”