May 21, 2017
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Theo Fennell in adminstration, buyers already showing interest

May 21, 2017

On Friday morning it seemed that Joy was the latest victim of tough times in the UK retail sector. But by late Friday afternoon it emerged that jeweller Theo Fennell had taken that title.

Theo Fennell

The lossmaking business called in professional services firm BDO to act as administrator with some staff having already been made redundant.

But just as Joy was quickly bought back by its previous owners, it’s unlikely that Theo Fennell’s name will be consigned to history with potential buyers already showing interest, although it’s unclear whether founder Theo Fennell would be involved.

Some reports said specialist turnaround investor Rcapital is a frontrunner to take over the business.

While Theo Fennell had only 54 employees, its long history (it was founded in 1982), and its high profile with a slew of celebrity fans including Emma Watson and Elton John, has meant its administration filing has been a bigger headline grabber than its turnover might have justified.

The business trades from its flagship Chelsea, London store as well as a Harrods concession, other jewellery stores and its e-store. It’s known for its quirky pieces such as its Bees & Bugs collection, its Henry V Skull brooch and Celestial Night collection, with prices starting at less than £1,000 and soaring into the stratosphere.

Despite its pricing, its privatisation deal in 2013 valued it at only £3m with insiders saying management uncertainty and its high cost base meant it was a tough business to turn around. That said, its highest-price bespoke business is reported to be profitable.

Theo Fennell has had a turbulent history in recent years including a listing on the Alternative Investment Market, a re-privatisation, the exit and return of its founder and other management shake-ups.  The company has been lossmaking for some time.

Matthew Tait of BDO said: "Unfortunately, the financial burden of certain fixed costs have weighed heavily upon the company as it implemented its own restructuring plan.

"Whilst the market has remained strong for fine and luxury goods, the cost and pace of that restructuring could not be supported by the company indefinitely.”

He added that “given the long-established reputation the company has built for fine craftsmanship it is not surprising that we are already in receipt of a number of expressions of interest."

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