Allders goes into administration

FEARS emerged today over the future of the flagship store in Ipswich's Buttermarket shopping centre following news department store chain Allders has gone into administration.

FEARS emerged today over the future of the flagship store in Ipswich's Buttermarket shopping centre following news department store chain Allders has gone into administration.

On the back of several days of intense speculation, the chain was put into administration yesterday after attempts to sell it failed.

Allders has 45 stores across England and operates the 'anchor' store in the Buttermarket, one of Ipswich's busiest shopping centres.

Administrators from corporate recovery firm Kroll said they intended to trade the business as a going concern while marketing it to interested parties.

Allders underwent a management shake-up two years ago but it has continued to suffer losses.

Property group Minerva put the chain up for sale last month but no buyer emerged.

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Allders directors said they had obtained assurances from the administrators that they will seek to ensure that all customers who have paid deposits will be fairly compensated.

Administrator Andrew Pepper said: "We appreciate this is a worrying time for employees and their families and will regularly keep them informed of developments."

Kroll said it was hopeful of selling Allders as a going concern.

Croydon-based Allders had a turnover in the year to June of £524million and has 5,700 full and part-time staff.

All staff have been paid to the end of January and further wages will be paid as part of the administration.

The position of the chain's pension scheme, which is believed to carry a deficit of about £16million, is to be investigated by the administrators "as a matter of some urgency".

Scarlett Retail, a consortium comprising property group Minerva, brokers Lehman Brothers and the chain's senior managers, bought Allders two years ago for £158million.

Since then it has continued to struggle to improve its position and Minerva has told investors that its share of Scarlett Retail brought losses of £22.6million last year.

It is thought a number of rival retailers, including Debenhams and House of Fraser, have expressed an interest in buying individual stores and Havery Lipsith, who was the chief executive of Allders until 2003, has also reportedly been preparing a bid.

Are you an Allders employee worried about your job? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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