Billy can still remember his Dad from before he had to ‘go abroad for a number of years with his job’, which he always thought odd for a man whose job it was to rob Post Offices.
One of his fondest memories is when his Dad would sit by his bed when he was four or five years old and read from the six book series Dune, an iconic science fiction opus set in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which various noble houses control planetary fiefs. He can still remember falling asleep to his Dad’s voice reading from one of the books, waking up two or three hours later to hear him still reading.
Which is why he expressed surprise to hear that a science fiction series of novels can enter an insolvency process. And he has a point. However, it turns out that Dune also sell shoes and boots and it is this part of their business that has jumped onto the ‘Beating Up Landlords’ bandwagon.
It is reported this morning (Saturday 6 February) that the footwear retailer has drafted in advisors from KPMG to conduct a strategic review of the business. Obviously the talks are secret, but let’s be honest we all know they are centring around the possibility of switching Dune stores to a turnover-based rent model. This is because all such talks cut-and-paste those items onto the agenda.
We in the NTI newsroom are willing to bet that a CVA will be just around the corner, depending on how these talks go, as stories about retailers have become as predictable as sci-fi novels, with the same foreseeable ending.
At this stage in our equally predictable ‘cut-and-paste report about a retailer standing on a cliff edge during times of pandemic’ we feel duty bound to tell you about the number of stores _________ (fill in blank, Billy) the fill-in-the-missing-word-retailer has, and how many jobs are potentially at risk. These numbers are: Dune operates from 43 standalone stores and employs around 1200 people. However, the edge to this story (where the Flying Lords of Centorian meet their nemesis Juno on the Hills of Wana) Dune also has (had) 175 concessions in stores like Debenhams, and no story with that word in it ends well.
KPMG will, as always, do a splendid job, but may be a tad distracted by HIG Europe joining a pack of private equity bidders vying to buy the UK restructuring arm of the big four accountancy giant. They join Capital Group (ICG) and two others who are reported to be at the smart-end of talks.
They have little choice, as all of ‘the big four’ have submitted plans to the Financial Reporting Council demonstrating how they intend to 'operationally separate' their audit and consulting arms during the next four years. Their own stories had become confused by conflicts of interests on the Mountain Region of Zank-Xi II, with fights to the death before the gods of Government... nice little earner, though, at £400 million.