Penny Plain rescued from administration

Penny Plain, which slipped into administration on 13th March, has
been acquired by a trio of north-east businessmen, safeguarding a
large number of jobs. The company’s directors called in the
administrators, BDO Stoy Hayward, after experiencing financial
difficulties. Nick Oliver, who will continue running the business
as managing director, told CEB that the company suffered its
“worst season ever”, poor trading in the autumn
coupled with newer stores not performing yet, contributed to the
company’s failure. Oliver also said he felt the Autumn catalogue
was not as strong as in previous years and added that the
womenswear sector in general suffered tough trading conditions
towards the end of 2006.

The business and its Wealth of Nations subsidiary were sold as a
going concern to entrepreneurs Guy Readman, Gerald Stern and
Jeremy Middleton. The investment protects a large number of
warehouse and head office jobs including positions in Penny
Plain’s 10 retail stores. Guy Readman commented, “We have a
clear vision for the future which will focus on the long
established mail order arm of the company whilst continuing to
support and develop the existing profitable retail shops. We will
also be looking to rapidly expand the web-based internet business
as recent internet sales suggest there is great potential for
growth in this area.”

Penny Plain will continue to be headed up by Nick Oliver and
commercial director Lisa Lockey. The company’s head office will
be transferred from Newcastle to its main warehouse in
Washington, Tyne & Wear. The seven under-performing shops in the
South of England were recently closed along with three department
store concessions.

Nick Oliver continued, “There’s been a lot of turmoil and
there’s still a lot to do. We’re focusing on the mail order and
website in the short term with the main aim of restoring the
business to profitability.” He concluded, “The new
investors bring substantial experience and resources to the
business. We have a great spring 2007 collection and our efforts
will be focused on investing in design, creating the best
possible ranges for autumn 2007 and future seasons and developing
the company’s already growing internet presence”.


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