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Owner's brother saves Hobson and Bates Shoes

The future of two-store independent retailer Hobson and Bates Shoes has been secured after it was bought out of administration by its owner’s brother.

The company, owned by Gary Bates, operated two stores: Bawtry Shoe Company in Bawtry, Doncaster and Hobson Shoes in Grantham, Lincolnshire. These have now been bought by Bates’ brother Mark, who also owned a store called Hobson Shoes in Newark, Nottinghamshire. The deal was struck on May 27, less than a month after administrators from insolvency firm SFP were appointed.

The Grantham store has since closed, with four staff made redundant.

The remaining two stores, which stock men’s and women’s brands including Barker, Steptronic, Hunter and Van Dal, will both trade as Hobson Shoes and will be managed by Gary Bates. Mark Bates will not be involved in the day-to-day running of the stores, but will support the business financially.

Hobson and Bates Shoes entered administration after almost a year trading under a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

Mark Bates told Drapers the CVA had been a “total disaster”, hampered by wider economic woes, with a number of suppliers demanding payment upfront.

“We had only one option to rescue the Bawtry [Doncaster] store and the jobs of those working there and that was merging the two businesses. The Grantham shop was unprofitable in every way so we had to close it,” he said.

“Our key suppliers are totally behind the move – they believe it is a positive step. Give us a couple of years and I have no doubt that Gary will turn the store around and we will be on the lookout for another premises.”

Joint administrator Simon Plant said: “Hobson and Bates Shoes was a successful and established business, with a quality product. Despite arranging a CVA, the company continued to struggle as the market remained relatively flat.”

When the company entered its CVA last June, Hobson and Bates Shoes owed about £296,000 to creditors, including more than 20 brands.

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