Employment Monitor Shows Retailers ‘Must Make Plans For Rent Day Now’

Research ‘Highlights Ongoing Concerns For Sector’


The latest employment figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) are a clear sign of the current problems affecting non-food retailers and should encourage firms to prepare for the many challenges ahead, an insolvency expert at Irwin Mitchell has warned.

The BRC-Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor Q4 2011 revealed that retail employment rose by 0.5 per cent over the three-month period from 12 months earlier, with the number of retail outlets also growing by one per cent.

However, it also recorded a fall in non-food stores compared with the same time in 2010, with food retailers behind the overall increases seen across the period.

According to Chris Jones, Partner at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office who specialises in insolvency and corporate recovery, the figures reflect the trends that have been seen in the retail sector since Christmas.

The expert outlined: “These figures clearly demonstrate the pain and difficult conditions that many companies are currently enduring in the UK retail sector.

“However, it is fair to say from media reports and the cases we’ve been involved in, that non-food retailers have particularly suffered in recent months - with many simply struggling to keep their heads above water in the current climate.

“The likes of Past Times and Bonmarche are among those which have faced problems and have been forced into urgent action to stay in operation.

“One of the next key dates that retailers will be considering will be the next quarter rent day at the end of March (24th), as this could once again be a make-or-break moment where they will need to meet payments in order to avoid any threat of administration.

“It is vital that any retailers which do have concerns on this issue not only seek advice and continue to consider the restructuring of their operations, but also talk to their landlords early to discuss potential options.

“We’ve already seen a number of firms do this with positive results, particularly by putting agreements in place with landlords to pay monthly rather than pull together such funds on a quarterly basis.”