Republic out of fashion: Chain expected to go into administration

Feb 13, 2013

Clothing brand set to become latest High Street casualty as analysts blame 'fickle' consumers

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FASHION CHAIN Republic is expected to become the latest high street store to go into administration today, with more than 1,500 jobs at risk. The Leeds-based firm, founded in 1986, is poised to appoint Ernst & Young as administrator for its 121 stores, reports The Guardian.

If the youth fashion chain collapses it will be the latest in a string of retail casualties since Christmas, including Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster. HMV administrator Deloitte closed the group's 16 loss-making Irish stores yesterday.

Republic was bought by private equity group TMG, which is run by former Marks & Spencer executives Luc Vandevelde and Roger Holmes, for a reported £300m in 2010. However, the store saw its profits sink by 86 per cent to £3.7m in the year to January 2012 with analysts saying there is no sign revenues have increased since then.

Last week The Times reported the chain appointed KPMG to help sell off some of their stores and renegotiate monthly rent payments as part of apparently unsuccessful efforts to salvage the business. Republic's chairman, former Asda boss Andy Bond, is thought to have left the company after two years as the restructuring efforts began.

Retail analyst Anusha Couttigane of Conlumino said the low-cost fashion chain had failed to appeal to its target market "as effectively as rivals such as Primark, Asos or H&M".

"Operating towards the value end of the market should have placed the retailer in a strong position to take advantage of the consumer trend towards low-cost fashion," she said. "[But] fashion is a fast-moving industry where brand loyalty is fickle and Republic has failed to keep up with some pretty fierce competitors."

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