Hiking and camping chain to enter administration

Photo: N Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

About 2,400 retail workers’ jobs are under threat as camping, cycling and hiking store Go Outdoors prepares to call in administrators.

The chain’s 67 stores had been struggling in recent years and closures forced by the coronavirus outbreak has led to its owner, JD Sports starting the administration process.

JD Sports said it had filed a notice of its intention in court after considering a “number of strategic options”. Filing a notice protects the company from legal action and its creditors for 10 days while an administrator is found.

A prominent accountancy firm, thought to be Deloitte, has been appointed to oversee the process, which may result in the company being restructured or negotiations take place around rent cuts or “holidays” for its stores.

The opening of non-essential retailers over the past week in England and Northern Ireland (Wales begins to open today and Scotland is phasing in more reopenings from next week) has seen long queues build up in high streets but hopes that they were a sign of a V-shaped economic recovery have been quelled by footfall figures.

These show that on the first day of reopening in England footfall was 45.3% down on the equivalent day last year, according to retail analyst Springboard.

Other high street brands that have entered administration include fashion chains Warehouse, Oasis, Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley and the UK arm of Victoria’s Secret. Last week, Poundstretcher announced that it had launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), an insolvency process that allows companies to continue trading while pushing through store closures and rent cuts. And today Hotter Shoes announced it intended to launch a CVA to cull its store portfolio from 61 shops to 15.

Fear of coronavirus is thought to be deterring many shoppers from heading out. This has prompted retail analysts to speculate how the shopping experience needs to change.

Design strategist Kate Machtiger, wrote in the Harvard Business Review last week: “Walking around essential businesses today, you see many makeshift efforts to reduce contact and limit crowds – devices like tape on floors, plexiglass shields, and hastily written signs on coloured printer paper. These methods are cheap and easy, but they do little to lessen fear and manage the psychological state of their customers.”

She proposed that retailers try to revolutionise the shopping experience to minimise crowds, clutter and touching. Luxury stores already operated on similar principles she said, making for a far more high value and safer shopping experience.

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