By Pádraig Hoare
More than 140 jobs at Maplin Electronics stores in the Republic and the North are under threat after an administrator was appointed to its 217 stores across the UK and Ireland.
It comes as toy seller Toys R Us also appointed an administrator to its stores in Britain and the North, where is has four stores in Belfast, Derry, and Down — a move that could lead to all four being closed, insiders conceded. Between Maplin and Toys R Us, 5,000 jobs are at risk across the UK and Ireland. Electronics retailer Maplin has around 80 staff at its six stores in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Dundalk and Limerick, while there are 60 staff in five stores Belfast, Coleraine and Derry.
PwC has been appointed as administrators of the London and Rotherham-headquartered firm, which employs 2,335 staff and has an annual turnover of £236m (€267m). “The business has worked hard over recent months to mitigate a combination of impacts from sterling devaluation post Brexit, a weak consumer environment and the withdrawal of credit insurance,” Maplin CEO Graham Harris said.
A sale of Maplin had been pursued by management in recent weeks but could not be concluded, and given the cash position of the company, the directors put it into administration, PwC said.
Joint administrator and PwC partner Zelf Hussain said Maplin would continue to trade as normal while it sought a buyer. “Like many other retailers, Maplin has been hit hard by a slowdown in consumer spending and more expensive imports as the pound has weakened. Our initial focus as administrators will be to engage with parties who may be interested in acquiring all or part of the company.
“We will continue to trade the business as normal whilst a buyer is sought. Staff have been paid their February wages and will continue to be paid for future work while the company is in administration.”
Toys R Us sources said it was too early to say if all four stores in the North would be closed.
As part of bankruptcy proceedings in the US late last year, it said its stores in Belfast and Derry will “likely” close in the spring of 2018, but that it intended to keep open its stores in Sprucefield in Co Down and Belfast Castle Court.
The administration of the two retailers
, a form of creditor protection,
highlights the grim state of the UK high street, which has suffered from weak consumer sentiment, the growth of online sales and currency swings due to Britain’s vote to leave the EU.
Toys R Us administrator Simon Thomas said newer, smaller shops had outperformed the older, warehouse-style stores.
Additional reporting Reuters