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Ethel Austin closes a further 81 stores after failing to secure buyer

MCR, the administrators of Ethel Austin, will close a further 81 stores after failing to secure a buyer for the value chain.

MCR said that it would close the stores by the end of March and made 56 more redundancies at its head office in Merseyside, Liverpool today.

The latest spate of store closures means 696 store staff will lose their jobs.

MCR has been trying to secure a buyer for the business since it fell in to administration in early February after being impacted by a lack of banking facilities compounded by poor trade in January.

Sources told Drapers that the administrator has struggled to find a buyer for the business. It is understood that former MK One boss Elanie McPherson, who bought the business out of administration in 2008, failed to secure backers to help her buy the business back once more.

The latest closures mean that Ethel Austin, which also comprises the homewares chain Au Naturale, has made a total of 2,269 redundancies and closed 205 stores since its administration, leaving about 65 stores still trading.

In late February, 124 stores were closed resulting in 1,048 redundancies. It followed 404 redundancies at the retailer’s warehouse and 65 at its head office earlier that month.

MCR partner and joint administrator Geoff Bouchier said today: “It is a difficult retail climate and until such time as any sale of the businesses can be completed, cost cutting measures need to be taken to allow the businesses to trade on in the short term.”

“There are still opportunities for a purchaser of the businesses to come forward,” Geoff added.

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