Duffer Menswear has closed its 15 stores after escalating costs and declining footfall made the business unsustainable.
It is understood the retailer is due to file for liquidation imminently, although Drapers was unable to reach any of the company directors for comment. It is believed all stores have been closed since the start of the year, and the transactional website informs customers it is “unable to process orders at this time”.
The business, which opened its first store in 1993, has 15 branches in northwest England in locations including Preston, Manchester, Burnley, Warrington and Rochdale. Duffer Menswear stocked a range of young fashion and streetwear brands including Criminal Damage, Jack & Jones, Bewley & Ritch and Ringspun.
The managing director of one brand that supplied the chain said the economic climate had played a large part in its downfall, as well as a lack of support from the banks.
“Footfall was down and turnover was dipping quite a bit, but the biggest problem was the rent because the owners were having to pay for long leases,” he said.
Sources suggested pre-pack administration could be on the cards and stores with onerous leases could be offloaded.
The managing director of one young fashion brand said: “I heard they are going to do a phoenix from the ashes and get rid of the less profitable stores but keep the best six, seven or eight. It’s a shame as the business has been going for donkey’s years.”
In its latest accounts filed at Companies House, Duffer Menswear’s total assets less liabilities were £25,514 in the year to March 31, 2013, compared with £38,488 in the previous financial year.
The men’s branded sector has been struggling in recent years, with spend among under-25s falling. According to Kantar Worldpanel, menswear bought for under-25-year-olds dropped 5.5% year on year in the 24 week to December 22, with branded menswear dipping 8.8%.
One menswear brand owner said: “There are very few of the middle-market branded players left now, most of them have gone or been bought by [JD Sports Fashion chief executive Peter] Cowgill or [Sports Direct executive deputy chairman Mike] Ashley.”