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Harveys and TM Lewin fall into administration with loss of 800 jobs

Sarah Butler and Zoe Wood
·9-min read
<span>Photograph: British Retail Photography/Alamy</span>
Photograph: British Retail Photography/Alamy

Furniture chain Harveys and shirt maker TM Lewin have both called in administrators on another bleak day for UK retailers, with the immediate loss of more than 800 jobs and more than 1,300 others at risk.

The collapse of the two familiar retail names is another blow for high streets already reeling from the closure of a number of of Debenhams outlets and the collapse of fashion retailers Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley, Oasis and Warehouse.

Scottish retail chain M&Co, which employs 2,700 people at 262 stores, has appointed advisers from Deloitte to consider options for the business, including a possible sale via a pre-pack administration, as first reported by Sky News on Tuesday.

The coronavirus lockdown has prompted some of the UK’s most prominent companies to announce large-scale job losses. The aviation, automotive and retail sectors have been among the worst hit, as businesses adjust to dramatically reduced revenue projections.

While the government’s job retention scheme has so far protected millions of jobs, fears are mounting that unemployment will rise as the scheme begins to be phased out from August.

Since lockdown began on 23 March, some of the UK’s largest companies have announced plans to cut a total of 60,000 jobs globally, many of which will fall in the UK.

Rolls-Royce - 9,000 jobs
The jet-engine manufacturer has confirmed that 3,000 job cuts, of a planned 9,000 worldwide, will be made in the UK. In May Rolls-Royce said it would make the first round of redundancies through a voluntary programme, with about 1,500 posts being lost at its headquarters in Derby, as well as 700 redundancies in Inchinnan, near Glasgow, another 200 at its Barnoldswick site in Lancashire, and 175 in Solihull, Warwickshire.

BP- 10,000 jobs
The oil company said in June it plans to make 10,000 people redundant worldwide, including an estimated 2,000 in the UK, by the end of the year. The BP chief executive, Bernard Looney, said that the majority of people affected would be those in office-based jobs, including at the most senior levels. BP said it would reduce the number of group leaders by a third, and protect the “frontline” of the company, in its operations.

Centrica- 5,000 jobs
The owner of British Gas announced in June that it intends to cut 5,000 jobs, mostly senior roles, and remove three layers of management, in a bid to simplify the structure of its business. The energy firm has a total workforce of 27,000, of whom 20,000 are in the UK.

Bentley- 1,000 jobs
The luxury carmaker intends to shrink its workforce by almost a quarter, slashing 1,000 roles through a voluntary redundancy scheme. The majority of Bentley’s 4,200 workers are based in Crewe in Cheshire.

Aston Martin Lagonda – 500 jobs
The Warwickshire-based luxury car manufacturer has announced 500 redundancies.

British Airways - 12,000 jobs
The UK flag carrier is holding consultations to make up to 12,000 of its staff redundant, a reduction of one in four jobs at the airline. BA intends to cut roles among its cabin crew, pilots and ground staff, while significantly reducing its operations at Gatwick airport.

Virgin Atlantic - 3,000-plus jobs
Richard Branson’s airline is to cut more than 3,000 jobs, more than a third of its workforce, and will shut its operations at Gatwick.

EasyJet – 4,500 jobs
The airline has announced plans to cut 4,500 employees, or 30% of its workforce.

Ryanair – 3,000 jobs
The Irish airline intends to slash 3,000 roles and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth.

Aer Lingus – 900 jobs
The Irish airline, part of International Airlines Group (IAG) plans to cut 900 jobs.

P&O Ferries – 1,100 jobs
The shipping firm intends to cut more than a quarter of its workforce, a loss of 1,100 jobs. The company, which operates passenger ferries between Dover and Calais, and across the Irish Sea, as well as Hull to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge, will initially offer employees voluntary redundancy.

JCB – 950 jobs
Digger maker JCB said in May up to 950 jobs are at risk after demand for its machines halved due to the coronavirus shutdown.

Ovo Energy – 2,600 jobs
Britain’s second biggest energy supplier announced in May it planned to cut 2,600 jobs and close offices after the lockdown saw more of its customer service move online.

Johnson Matthey – 2,500 jobs
The chemicals company said in June it is planning to make 2,500 redundancies worldwide over the next three years. The move will affect 17% of the workforce at the firm, which is a major supplier of material for catalytic converters.

Bombardier – 600 jobs
The Canadian plane maker will cut 600 jobs in Northern Ireland, as part of 2,500 redundancies announced in June.

The Restaurant Group – 1,500 jobs
The owner of Tex-Mex dining chain Chiquito, and other brands including Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s, said in March that most branches of Chiquito and all 11 of its Food & Fuel pubs would not reopen after the lockdown, leading to the loss of 1,500 jobs.

Monsoon Accessorize – 345 jobs
The fashion brands were bought out of administration by their founder, Peter Simon, in June, in a deal which saw 35 stores close permanently and led to the loss of 545 jobs.

Clarks – 900 jobs
Clarks plans to cut 900 office jobs worldwide as part of a wider turnaround strategy

Oasis and Warehouse – 1,800 jobs
The fashion brands were bought out of administration by restructuring firm Hilco in April, in a deal which led to the permanently closure of all of their stores and the loss of more than 1,800 jobs.

Debenhams – 4,000 jobs
At least 4,000 jobs will be lost at Debenhams as a result of restructuring, following its collapse into administration in April, for the second time in a year.

Mulberry – 470 jobs
The luxury fashion and accessories brand said in June it is to cut 25% of its global workforce and has started a consultation with the 470 staff at risk.

Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100 jobs
The car firm is to cut 1,100 contract workers at manufacturing plants the UK, potentially affecting factories at Halewood on Merseyside and Solihull and Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands.

Travis Perkins – 2,500 jobs
The builders’ merchant is cutting 2,500 jobs in the UK, accounting for almost a 10th of its 30,000-strong workforce. The company, which is behind DIY retailer Wickes and Toolstation, said the job losses will affect staff in areas including distribution, administrative roles and sales. The move will also affect staff across 165 stores that are now earmarked for closure.

Shirt maker TM Lewin, which has not reopened any stores since the lockdown on “non essential” retailers was lifted earlier this month, said all 66 of its outlets would be permanently closing with the loss of about 600 jobs, after the group called in administrators on Tuesday.

Administrators from PwC are seeking a buyer for about 20 Harveys stores and its three manufacturing sites. But 240 redundancies were made immediately at the chain and more than 1,300 jobs may go if a buyer cannot be found.

All its stores will continue to trade for now, but industry watchers believe a buyer is unlikely to materialise. The retailer has been struggling for years and is also heavily reliant on sister chain Bensons for Beds, with which it shares several sites.

Bensons was also put into administration on Tuesday. However, it has been bought out in a prearranged deal by its private equity owner Alteri Investors, with the aim of saving between 150 and 175 of the chain’s 242 stores, its Huntingdon manufacturing operation, and nearly 1,900 jobs.

The buyout involves new investment of £25m into Bensons by Alteri. All current Harveys and Bensons orders will be honoured by the ongoing business.

Zelf Hussain, joint administrator at PwC, said: “The group had been facing increasingly challenging trading conditions in recent months, in particular the Harveys furniture business. This has resulted in cashflow pressures, exacerbated by the effects of coronavirus on the supply chain and customer sales. It has not been possible to secure further investment to continue to trade the group in its current form.”

Harveys and Bensons’ parent group appointed administrators from PwC on Tuesday morning after a tough period of trading for furniture retailers, which were suffering from a slowdown in the housing market and low consumer confidence even before the government-imposed high street shutdown forced them to temporarily close stores in March.

“The restructuring, whilst obviously difficult for Harveys’ employees, will safeguard more than half the group’s workforce and is a necessary milestone on Bensons’ journey to becoming a market-leading beds retailer with a strong omnichannel presence,” said Gavin George, the chief executive of Alteri.

“We will continue to work closely with the management team on the turnaround of the business which we believe can have a bright future, despite the challenges facing the retail industry, including the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Alteri bought Harveys, which was founded in 1966, and Bensons, which has been in business for 70 years, in November last year.

TM Lewin owner Stonebridge Private Equity, whose vehicle Torque Brands took over TM Lewin in May, has bought back the brand’s remaining assets, including its online business, in a pre-pack deal.

Stonebridge said it had formed the view that TM Lewin was no longer a viable going concern in its current format.

The group did not reopen stores last month as the company said it relied on services such as measuring which were not possible to deliver with physical distancing.

“The business is unable to sustain current rental agreements for its store network across the country. With all stores still remaining closed due to social distancing guidelines, our customers have been unable to shop in store for the past three-plus months; this has forced our hands to focus on a radical overhaul of the business model, rebuilding from the ground up in a fashion we deem fit for the years to come,” Torque said in a statement.