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M&Co to shut all 170 stores this spring after brand is bought

Tom Bottomley
06 February 2023

Renfrewshire-based value clothing chain M&Co, previously known as Mackays and one of Scotland’s best known retailers, is to close all of its 170 stores after Easter, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The business appointed administrators for a second time at the end of 2022 and, while the brand was bought last week by AK Retail Holdings, the owner of plus size retailers Yours Clothing and Bad Rhino, the acquisition did not include the stores.

M&Co had previously gone into administration in 2020, but the McGeoch family behind the business bought back the assets, at the time losing 47 of its stores.

Richard Hyman, Partner at Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) and long-time retail analyst, said: “It’s always very sad to see another retail business going, or at least going in its traditional physical form, but I think it can’t be a surprise to anyone. The family have tried very hard to keep it going and previously rescued it themselves, but the headwinds have been overwhelming – as they have been for other retailers, and will continue to be as this year unfolds. The crunch is yet to peak in terms of the economic pressures.

“M&Co trades in a segment of the market that is particularly over-supplied. In the value clothing market, you’ve got Primark as the dominant force, and you’ve got retailers like M&Co, Peacocks, Matalan, New Look to a degree, and the supermarket clothing brands all vying for a share of a diminishing action.

“Spend on clothing is down and I think that is inevitable. We’re in a serious recession, consumers have got less money to spend and they have to reprioritise their budgets, and clothing is an area where they’ve got wardrobes full of stuff already. They can easily make do buying fewer items.

“So many factors have really made life more difficult. On top of the over-supply, there was Covid and subsequent lockdowns with enforced closure of stores, and now we’ve got the recession, the war in Ukraine and inflation. All of these things have created such pressure that has proved to be unsurmountable.

“We will see what kind of business remains beyond the physical business of M&Co, but I imagine it will be relatively small.”

In a statement AK Retail Holdings said:  “M&Co was put into administration for the second time in December. Chief executive Andrew Killingsworth said that he is delighted that this longstanding brand would be kept alive.

“At the moment we are considering all options as we continue to work with our online, third party partners and others.”

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