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Grimsey: 20,000 retailers at risk of failure this year

Some 20,000 stores could face closure over the next 12 months, with at least two “major” clothing retailers close to the brink, new research suggests.

The figures have emerged as part of the Grimsey Review, a research on the future of the high street, which is set to be published later this week that is expected to put forward alternative proposals to those made in the Portas Review.

The data has been compiled by financial risk management firm Company Watch, drawing on the financial performance of nearly 44,000 retail companies with a total net worth of £58bn. In total, 46.6% of those studied were in the “Company Watch warning area”, although this rises to 65.8% of small retailers.

In a foreword to the review, which will be published on Wednesday, Bill Grimsey will say the high street is “now in a period of deep decline”, adding: “We’ve seen reviews, pilots, future high street forums and more. But none of these initiatives are making much impact and there is a frustrating sense of policy being conducted in the margins. The need to grasp the nettle is bigger than ever.”

He specifically targets Mary Portas, whose 2011 review “promised the earth but delivered little”. Portas is due to appear in front of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee today at 4pm.

The pair have butted heads for some months now, with Grimsey describing the self-styled Queen of Shops as “using this serious issue as little more than a PR stunt and to lay the grounds for a lucrative TV makeover show”.

Research published today by the Local Data Company and British Independent Retailers Association showed that the number of womenswear indies in British town centres has continued to shrink.

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