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Oasis and Warehouse line up administrators

Lauretta Roberts
14 April 2020

High street fashion chains Oasis and Warehouse have lined up Deloitte to act as administrators, it has been reported.

The sister chains, owned by Icelandic bank Kaupthing, could be placed into administration later today or tomorrow, according to Sky News.

It emerged last month that the brands were in talks with a potential buyer, having received an approach. Talks with any potential buyers are said to be set to continue after the administration but the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, which has forced the closure of all non-essential retail stores for the forseeable future, has made a solvent sale of the businesses impossible.

The two chains employ 2,300 staff and prior the the lockdown had operated 90 stores and more than 400 concessions in department stores such as House of Fraser and Debenhams; the latter was placed into administration itself last week.

It is believed the staff will placed on the Government's COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme (furlough) by the administrators.

Kaupthing took control of Oasis and Warehouse in 2009 when its former parent group Mosaic fell into administration. Mosaic, also owned the Coast and Karen Millen chains, and collapsed during the slump in consumer demand during the credit crunch, as well as the implosion of its then major shareholder, the Icelandic retail conglomerate Baugur.

Coast and Karen Millen were both sold to online group Boohoo last year and closed all of their physical stores. A prior attempt to sell Oasis and Warehouse, which are led by CEO Hash Ladha, was abandoned.

Sofie Willmott, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, said of the latest developments: “The lack of distinct design handwriting at Oasis and Warehouse, coupled with fierce competition from online pureplays and Zara, alongside their exposure to the struggling department store channel has left the brands in trouble. With clothing & footwear expected to be the worst hit UK retail sector this year with spend forecast to fall by over 20%, the COVID-19 pandemic is reportedly set to claim two more victims in Oasis and Warehouse this week.

“Despite Warehouse improving its fashion credentials over the last couple of years and Oasis bolstering its marketing campaigns using celebrities such as Frankie Bridge and Katie Piper, the brands have failed to stand up against stronger players that are more front of mind amongst their target customer base. As demand for clothing continues to be decimated by a lack of social occasions, we expect to see further high street casualties over the coming month.”

Oasis focuses solely on womenswear while Warehouse recently made the move into menswear by buying online multi brand etailer The Idle Man and by launching its own menswear line. 

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