East is in administration despite higher Christmas sales

Healthy Christmas trading is no guarantee of survival in the tough UK fashion retail market, it seems. Womenswear specialist East filed for administration on Monday (January 29), less than a month after reporting that the Christmas period saw a 6.5% sales uplift and that e-tail powered ahead during the period.


Administrators Geoff Rowley and Phil Armstrong of advisory firm FRP Advisory have been named joint administrators, they confirmed to Fashion Network.

The company blamed tough trading, which contradicts its upbeat tone it adopted when it delivered its Christmas update. It seems that a 6.5% sales rise wasn’t enough to turn things around at the chain even though the company had said a few weeks ago that price promotions had worked well for it during the festive season.

East has 34 stores and 15 concessions with 314 UK staff. The stores are continuing to operate while the administrators look at options for the sale of the business or at least parts of it.

As well as general ongoing weak trading conditions, it seems that the lack of available investment cash was also an issue as East wasn’t able to invest for growth as it would have liked, a factor that crimped its international expansion ambitions.

Rowley said: “Unfortunately, East is the latest high street casualty following a tough trading period at the end of last year. The retailer was making progress to expand its footprint, particularly looking at international opportunities. However it has been unable to secure the necessary funding to realise those plans.”

It’s not the first administration filling for the business as a period of big losses saw an earlier filing in summer 2015. It was bought out of administration at the time for almost £3.5 million in a pre-pack deal. It then saw a controlling stake being sold to New York-based Rahul Kakar of Crore Capital in autumn 2016 with its CEO leaving as a result. Former Thomas Pink COO Erica Vilkauls was brought in to take up the top job.

Vilkauls seemed to be a good choice having held senior roles at some of the UK’s most respected retail businesses, including LK Bennett and John Lewis.

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