The future of footwear chain Brantano UK looked uncertain this week after it emerged that restructuring specialist PwC has been called in to review the business.
Alteri, a turnaround fund backed by US private equity firm Apollo Global Management, bought Brantano and its sister retailer, Jones Bootmaker, from Dutch firm Macintosh Retail Group for £12m in October 2015.
It is now working with accountant PwC to explore whether Brantano needs to be restructured, but Drapers understands store closures are likely and some jobs may be at risk.
A source close to the situation said: “Some jobs may be shed as part of the restructure but no plans are in place yet. There are loss-making stores for Brantano and since the sale [to Alteri] they are in discussions with landlords to get out of those leases.
”They are not at the stage of deciding whether administration is the best option. They are looking at lots of options.”
He added: “They are looking at both Brantano and Jones, but Brantano is the more challenging business and the restructure will be limited to it, there won’t be anything substantial for Jones.”
However, suppliers for both Jones Bootmaker and Brantano have expressed concern over the news.
One Jones Bootmaker supplier said: “We are nervous. I’m worried that there might be a pre-pack administration and Jones might be part of it. If you had the chance to get rid of all the unprofitable parts of the business at once, you would rather that than take a separate hit six months down the line.”
A Brantano supplier said: “It is business as usual there at the moment but the new owners are in a period of review. You never know what’s around the corner. It has been a tough season for everyone, as the weather has been so warm.”
One supply source added. “We haven’t had any problems with Jones Bootmaker to date so I hope it stays that way.”
Drapers understands that all rent and supplier payments from both Brantano and Jones Bootmaker are up to date.
Brantano has 140 stores and 60 concessions in the UK. It lost £4.6m before tax last year, although sales increased by 6% to £100m.
Jones Bootmaker, which has 110 shops and 13 concessions in the UK, made a pre-tax profit of £315,000 for the year to December 31 2014. It made sales after exceptional items of £79.9m.
Macintosh, which still owns the Brantano chain outside of the UK, as well as European footwear retailers Manfield, Invito and Dolcis, appointed JJMC Huppertz and BWGP Meijs as joint administrators on December 22.
Brantano declined to comment.