Sunderland jobs under threat as Barratts Shoes goes into administration

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SHOP jobs are under threat on Wearside after the collapse of one of Britain’s best-known high street names.

Barratts Shoes went into administration for the third time in four years at the end of last week, putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk.

Barratts operates from 75 stores nationwide – including one in Sunderland’s Bridges shopping centre. The firm employs a total of 1,035 people, of whom 521 are part time.

A statement from administrators Duff & Phelps said directors at the Bradford-based chain were left with no choice but to go into administration after an investor pulled out of a plan to inject £5million as the company sought to shore up its finances late on Thursday.

Philip Duffy and David Whitehouse were appointed on Friday afternoon.

The administrators said they were reviewing the company’s financial position and seeking a sale of the business as a going concern but said: “At this stage redundancies and/or store closures cannot be ruled out.”

Staff have been informed and stores are trading as usual but further announcements on the future of the chain’s outlets are expected in the next few days.

Recent reports suggested that Barratts owner and boss Michael Ziff was seeking cash to pay for stock without which it would be running perilously low during the crucial run-up to Christmas.

Mr Duffy said: “Difficult trading conditions in the sector led the directors to explore potential refinancing options and additional equity for the business.

“The company had recently received an offer from an investor to inject £5million into the company but that offer was withdrawn on the evening of November 7.

“In view of the financial position of the company and withdrawal of that equity offer, the directors were left with no choice but to appoint administrators.”

It comes nearly two years after the footwear chain last went into administration, in December 2011, with unseasonably mild weather blamed for exacerbating already difficult trading conditions.

Attempts to find a buyer for its concessions business failed, costing 1,600 jobs, but in January last year a deal was agreed to save most of the stand-alone store chain - though with the loss of 680 jobs.

Mr Ziff had previously been involved in a deal to keep the brand going after it went into administration in 2009.