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Catching Up with Old Friends on a Tuesday

Posted on May 25, 2021. by NTI

As the tide begins to turn and the sun finally remembers it is May, there is news about some of the old friends who have adorned the NTI newsroom's bulletins in the past 16 months or so.

Let's start at the nadir and head upwards. Arcadia Group will be finally be sold tomorrow, celebrating the end of Philip Green's shameful presence on the high streets of Britain. We won't extol the chain of low-end fashion stores Green murdered over the past five years or so by calling it an 'empire', but it is worthy of him that the sale of its final assets are going out with a whimper. In the sale, which will end at 4.00pm tomorrow ( 26 May), will also be the intellectual property and branding for 'Outfit'. Never heard of it? Before Arcadia’s collapse late last year, Outfit was a big-box retailer which housed items from the groups host of brands, nearly all of which have now been sold off.

At its peak Arcadia employed more than 19,000 people worldwide and operated more than 1100 stores across 34 countries. Tomorrow it leaves the NTI news bulletins with a mere squeak.

Following the Administration in October 2019 and subsequent Liquidation in February of last year, Mothercare closed all of its 79 stores and website, and the UK arm of the business and now operates as a franchise subsidiary of the overall group. It reduced its debt by £12.1 million at the end of its financial year and expects profit for 2021 despite 40 per cent sales drop.

Still with a presence on the high street and managing to get away with describing itself as a 'fashion brand', Ted Baker yesterday extended its revolving credit facility with its existing syndicate. This includes a new £90 million facility which will reduce to £80 million in January 2022 until maturity in November 2023. Here is a business in stark need of a transformation plan and the management team believes it now has the necessary cash to deliver precisely that. So Ted Baker looks like surviving the pandemic, eh? Who knew?

Another business in desperate need of some cash coming through the door to start whittling away at that pesky pile of £5.2 billion debt is the cinema industry in general, and Cineworld in particular. The monolithic cinema company with a sensurround debt, pick-and-mix insolvency options and 4-D creditors opened its doors again last Thursday, and the unlikely box-office hit Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, has been performing ahead of its expectations. The Odeon, too, reported its busiest week in more than a year, with attendances reaching more than double the level of last year’s trading period from July to November. They showed a main feature on most of their screens with a medley of paint drying and movies about locomotive journeys. We Brits want to go out and do and watch anything. Anything.

Once you have watched Peter Rabbit and start to seriously question the direction of your life, you will want to go our for some scram. Every insolvency professional knows there is now less of a choice of casual dining provider, but the Restaurant Group - owner of chains including Wagamama and Frankie & Benny's - said sales in the last five weeks had seen a "very encouraging recovery" as restrictions eased and are looking to ease further. In the five weeks after the resumption of outdoor dining in April, sales at its 130 Wagamama sites and 75 Brunning & Price pubs were at 85 per cent of pre-COVID levels in 2019, the group said.

Having had some flat noodles and red velvet cookie dough ice-cream you can then drive home in your new 'previously enjoyed' vehicle purchased from Lookers, who will have had every reason for giving you a great deal, as today they announced that sales had soared since the reopening of non-essential retail last month. A spokesperson said that trading across the group has been strong since 12 April, benefitting from increased consumer demand and cost reduction initiatives. Sales for new retail units in the four months to 30 April shot up 33 per cent compared to the previous year, while sales for new fleet units rose by 21 per cent.

You're up-to-date on a Tuesday.

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