Derbyshire-based department store Bennetts has fallen into administration after 285 years of trading, following a decline in sales and increased competition from online.
The company, which has two stores, appointed Paul Mallatratt and Louise Freestone of Bridgewood Debt Solutions as joint administrators on 8 February. The business is looking for potential buyers.
Mallatratt said: “We’ve got a number of expressions of interest in the company even at this early stage. We’re currently in the process of valuing the business and then we can approach buyers with a sale package.”
Founded in 1734, Bennetts has two stores – one in Irongate, Derby and one in Ashbourne. Both continue to trade with reduced hours of 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday. Gift vouchers and credit notes will continue to be accepted.
The Ashbourne store closed for the day on Friday to update stock records and prepare the company for sale.
All four of the company’s directors have been made redundant, and five staff from the Derby store have been let go. All staff at the Ashbourne store will keep their jobs for the time being.
Bennetts claims to be the world’s oldest department store and recently suffered a decline in sales due to a tough trading climate on the high street and increased competition from the internet, according to administrators.
However, support since the business fell into administration has been extremely positive: “We’ve already had offers of support from the local council and various other agencies who are keen to see Bennetts survive,” said Mallatratt.
“Sales on Saturday went through the roof. They were up 200% in Derby and 30% in Ashbourne and major suppliers are on board in listening to what needs to be done.”