Bankers pull the plug on Dewhurst chain

Sixty butchers shops closed earlier this week with a loss of hundreds of jobs after the Dewhurst chain went into adminstration on Monday.

The remaining 35 shops will be sold off as a going concern along with the HQ in Tunbridge Wells.

It follows Dewhurst's banker's decision to pull the plug on its investment as trading figures deteroriate. As a result directors of parent company Lloyd Maunder appointed an administrator early this week.

Lloyd Maunder acquired a share in Dewhurst from its private equity owners early last year, and invested new equity to strengthen the balance sheet. Dewhurst continued to be operated as a separate company while efforts were made to upgrade the shops and improve the quality of their offer.

Lloyd Maunder said significant further sums were invested over the last 12 months resulting in 11 totally refurbished shops which had in turn seen much improved sales. However, against a backdrop of rent and energy price increases going back to last autumn, High Street trading conditions generally have worsened substantially over the last six months, said a spokesman for LLoyd Maunder.

Christmas sales in 2005 were generally on a par with the previous year but the early part of 2006 has seen significant like-for-like sales deterioration which, despite re-organisation of the buying and supply system for the group and a competitive pricing policy, has resulted in deepening losses, said a spokesman.

The directors of the parent company, Lloyd Maunder (Holdings) said: "We very much regret the collapse of Dewhurst. Despite our best efforts and the application of experience gained in running our own chain of butcher's shops, the recent trading conditions have proved to be much worse than those we had anticipated. We can no longer justify the much heavier investment being demanded by Dewhurst's bankers to support this operation. We ourselves are the principal creditor involved."

Administration is in the hands of BDO Stoy Hayward at 8 Baker Street, London, which is conducting a review of the Dewhurst business. The Dewhurst chain employs 600 staff.


Kevin Quirk, manager of Dewhurst's Stratford shop in East London said he and his staff surfed the internet following the announcement to get a picture of the shops involved. He is taking the positive view that his shop will remain albeit under new owners as "it is a very successful business".

At the Tottenham branch in North London, manager John Turvill, says he has had calls from worried customers concerned that their favourite butchers was to close. Like Kevin in Statford, however, John and his six staff are optimistic that they will survive as their shop is thriving. He said he hoped the Dewhurst name would remain.

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