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Retail Sector Insolvency

We all know that retail businesses have had a hard time lately. High rent and rates are a fixed overhead as our staff costs to keep a shop open. Even online businesses have suffered as marketing costs have risen as web search terms become more expensive.

Then add to that the enforced close down due to the virus. It is not a good time to be a retailer.

Some of the options available to shops and chains of shops are set out below.


The three main options for struggling retailers

Option 1

One option for this type of business is to close and go into liquidation but for the directors and shareholders to start again. This is usually more suitable for one shop and not a chain.

There are some advantages to liquidation and they are:

  • The government Redundancy Payments Office fund pay out any arrears of wages, redundancy, holiday pay and notice pay. Employees cannot normally claim continuous employment rights against a newly formed company under the TUPE rules post liquidation.
  • A liquidator an disclaim a lease.
  • Unsecured and non-personally guaranteed creditors die with the old company.

Option 2

Another option is to use a Company Voluntary Arrangement (“CVA”). This can be used to trigger paying out staff if stores are closed and can be used to effectively push landlords into changing the terms of a lease.

In a CVA landlords can only normally claim one months rent for dilapidations and 12 months for rent arrears.

There have been a number of retailers use CVA’s lately to close loss-making shops and reduce shop rents and less profitable sites.

Option 3

The third option is Administration. This tends to be used more as a pre-pack Administration to sell a chain of shops to a new company but often with the same owner. Often the instigator of the process is the company shareholder who has also lent funds to the business under a debenture so has control of the Administration process. 




0808 1961496


Across the South West, London & Wales

Just a quick email to say a heartfelt thank you for your very calm, considered, expert advice regarding my circumstances on Tuesday. Things looked bleak before you explained my options much more clearly, in simple layman’s terms.
Rob Elliott (14th December 2021)



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David Kirk

Licensed Insolvency Practitioner