Jan 2, 2019
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Greenwoods goes under a year after rescue deal

Jan 2, 2019

Menswear specialist Greenwoods has become the latest traditional retailer to go under as UK fashion retail goes through a transformational phase and also deals with the impact of the forthcoming Brexit.


October 2017 had seen the retailer being bought out of administration but in the last few days, the company that acquired it has thrown in the towel and the business is now set to close.

The company hasn’t made an official announcement but it began “everything must go” clearance sales just before Christmas and signs saying “all outlets have closed for business permanently” have been posted in the stores across the country. Its website has also been closed.

The firm had described itself as "the quintessential English gentleman's outfitter” and was owned for the last 15 months by Versatile International Trading, a company run by Mingju Li and Max Chance Xu, whose other business interests include clothing, property and trading

The 150-year-old company started in the North of England but had spread across the country. It had closed 60 of its stores in autumn 2017 after its administration filing. But 40 stores were saved at that time and some new locations were opened after it was sold to Versatile. However, it seems that there have been a number of under-the-radar closures too as the firm’s website had listed only 29 locations as recently as last month.

This latest failure looks like it could be the end as the company is being liquidated, a sad change from its peak period in the 1990s when it had around 200 stores. A decade ago it had even been seemingly strong enough to try to acquire major rival Moss Bros, although that attempt ended in failure and came ahead of an administration filing in January 2009.

The current liquidation process is being handled by XL Business Solutions and means 180 jobs will be lost. That follows almost 100 jobs being cut in the earlier administration process.

That 2017 failure had come despite annual turnover of around £63 million as the firm said conditions were “challenging” in the UK fashion retail sector. Although management hasn’t commented on the current situation, it’s perhaps unsurprising that an already-pressured company has found the retail environment of the past few months even tougher than it was just over a year ago.

There’s still speculation as to whether the Greenwoods name can be saved, although that seems unlikely at the moment.

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