BUSINESSES battling insolvency across Yorkshire and the North East are highlighting Brexit in ever-increasing numbers for their financial struggles – and it’s a scenario that’s triggered yet another High Street closure.
The Japanese company behind the pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond has pulled the plug on the chain, amid mounting concern that its losses would only increase after Brexit.
Insolvency experts said the statement has finally shed some light on the circumstances behind the mysterious closure of 113 shops.
Albemarle & Bond and its sister company Herbert Brown have long been familiar names across Yorkshire and the North East, with branches in Leeds, Keighley, Castleford, Selby, Wakefield, Sheffield, Mexborough, Doncaster, Barnsley, Middlesborough, Hartlepool, Sunderland, Newcastle, Gateshead, Blyth, and Scunthorpe,
Founded in Bristol in 1983 with a single shop, Albemarle and Bond grew with the purchase of Herbert Brown, which was established in Leeds in 1840, and at its peak the group boasted almost 200 stores.
Amid insolvency fears, they have now pulled down their shutters without warning, leaving customers concerned that they may never retrieve their belongings, pawned for short-term cash.
Around 400 jobs are also said to be in jeopardy, according to reports in the insolvency media
The Tokyo-based parent company Daikokuya Holdings issued this statement to its investors about its failed business recovery plan:
“Despite the implementation of various measures to improve management such as moving the head office, flattening the organization, and reducing the number of employees, the net profit for the year ended 31 March 2019 was a deficit of £7m. With the likelihood that the UK will leave the EU, losses are expected to increase, so we have decided to withdraw from the UK business.”
The two pawnbroking brands have been fighting insolvency for several years, and were first brought to their knees in 2014 after being hit by a drop in the price of gold; and the launch of an expansion plan that failed to deliver expected profits.
It resulted in the group collapsing into administration after failing to meet its liabilities, and its lenders declining to support any rescue plans for the loss-making business.
Insolvency practitioners warned then that investors would see no return following the failure to secure an insolvency lifeline.
It marked a sweeping reversal of fortunes since it boasted of “the age of the pawnbroker” in 2011 and launched a raft of pop-up shops, many across Yorkshire and the North East, specialising in gold dealing.
After insolvency forced it into administration, it was finally rescued by current investors after a £10m buyout.
It now finds itself in the shop window again, looking for a buyer. But whether there are any new investors willing to step in and save the stricken group a second time remains to be seen.
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