Jane Norman has placed its high street stores into administration as it focuses on building the business through online and international concessions, Drapers can reveal.
It is the second time the womenswear chain has gone into administration in three years. Les Ross, David Riley and Alistair Wardell from Grant Thornton were appointed as joint administrators on Monday (June 23).
The move, which affects all 24 stores in the UK and Ireland, has placed 157 jobs at risk, 57 of which are full-time.
Ross, a partner at Grant Thornton, said: “We intend to continue trading the stores for as long as possible with a view to achieving the best outcome for all concerned, in particular those people based in the stores. It is likely, however, that closures are inevitable.”
Drapers understands the stores will remain open for a matter of weeks rather than months. The retailer also has six concessions, including two in northern England and one each in the Midlands, East Anglia, southeast England and London.
A spokesman for Jane Norman said: “Like many retailers, we have seen extremely challenging conditions on the high street for several years in what is a very competitive sector in young fashion.
“While we have made every effort for a number of years to makes those stores work, that part of the business is no longer viable.
“At the same time, however, we fundamentally believe in the Jane Norman brand and its future as a web and international concessions business. For that reason we have taken the difficult decision to restructure the business to focus on future opportunities.”
Edinburgh Woollen Mill bought Jane Norman out of administration in 2011, in a pre-pack deal. The chain had been forced to temporarily close its UK stores as it struggled with cash-flow issues.
One industry source told Drapers he thought the chain’s international business had potential to grow into a strong proposition, as its British look translates well overseas.
However, he warned it would not be an easy transition: “Jane Norman is a dated set-up. Visually its ecommerce business looks OK, but when the true DNA of the brand can be seen within its dated stores then that journey from bricks to clicks will be very limited and way lower than the market expectation.”
He added: “I believe it should embrace top brands on a concession basis and increase its overall offer in line with demand.”
Another source said the move came as no surprise, as Jane Norman has “no natural synergy” with its owner’s other businesses, which as well as the Edinburgh Woollen Mill chain include value retailer Peacocks and discount outlet Ponden Mill.