THE plug could soon be pulled on the UK’s biggest bathroom specialist, as it battles to rescue its business – and stave off insolvency.

Bathstore, whose shops are a common sight throughout Yorkshire and the North East, is on the brink of administration, according to latest media reports. 

Insolvency analysts have been quoted as saying as far as further investment from Bathstore’s owners is concerned, the taps are set to be turned off.

Such an Insolvency scenario would put the jobs of around 700 people in jeopardy, including many in Yorkshire and the North East.

The bathroom giant operates stores at 16 sites across the North, including Barnsley, Carlisle, Chesterfield, Doncaster, Gateshead, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Newcastle, Scunthorpe, Sheffield, Shipley, Stockton and York.

It has been widely reported that the loss-making business faces administration after failing to find a buyer amid growing financial pressures.

There is a question mark over whether the group’s owner is willing to put in more cash to save the business, ahead of the next round of rent payment days.

While it is now based in Welwyn Garden City, the retailer has a strong Yorkshire pedigree – and many customers across Yorkshire and the North East. 

In 2003, a decade after it was founded, it was sold to the builders’ merchant Wolseley, who was the biggest employer in Ripon when it was headquartered in the Yorkshire cathedral city.

In 2012 Wolseley sold Bathstore to the Yorkshire private equity firm Endless, based in Leeds, in a £15m deal. 

The company changed hands yet again just two years later when it was acquired by an investment firm run by American billionaire Warren Stephens. 

This run of acquisitions is a far cry from the financial pressures confronting it today, as insolvency fears gather pace that Bathstore’s bubble is about to burst.

According to business recovery experts, Bathstore has been hit by an insolvency double whammy. 

Not only was the company hard hit by a marked reduction in consumer confidence in 2017, it has also struggled to overcome increased sourcing costs following the devaluation of sterling in the wake of the 2016 Brexit vote.

These tough trading conditions continued into 2018, when the company embarked on a business recovery turnaround plan in a last-ditch bid restore profitability. 

Now a doubt hangs over whether that business recovery and refinancing plan has been successful.

The £1bn bathroom market is dominated by builder’s merchants and DIY chains. As with other home improvement businesses sales, industry experts say it has been torpedoed by the slowdown in the housing market wedded to weak consumer confidence. 

Sales of big-ticket items have been particularly hard hit, as the rising number of insolvency victims of the High Street demonstrate.

For more information about the work of our licensed insolvency practitioners and businesses recovery teams in Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and Darlington, please call us on 03300 244 660 or email confidential@walshtaylor.co.uk

Mary Taylor
Director

Mary began working in insolvency for a national accountancy practice in Glasgow thirty years ago and worked in most divisions of the insolvency department.

She then moved to a smaller firm so she could advance her knowledge on a more hands on basis. She moved back to Leeds in 1987 and commenced working with a small firm of accountants and subsequently made partner.

She left in 1999 to set up her own practice, McCann Taylor.
McCann Taylor became involved with the consumer market both in England and Scotland.

Mary sold McCann Taylor in March 2007 and formed Walsh Taylor to concentrate on helping businesses experiencing financial difficulties.

Kate Ellis (neé Breese)
Insolvency Practitioner

Kate has worked in insolvency since 2001 starting out at a firm of solicitors in Leeds and latterly gaining positions within two national accountancy firms.

During this time Kate gained extensive experience in all aspects of personal and corporate insolvency, for the first part of her career specializing in personal insolvency and latterly corporate.

Kate has been with Walsh Taylor since its incorporation in September 2008.

Kate is CPI and JIEB qualified, is experienced in a variety of industries and sectors and is the firm’s joint appointment taker.

Meg Heath
Director

Meg has a background in supporting SMEs, including the raising of finance and advising on organisational change. She is a non-executive director of companies in the private and third sector, including Walsh Taylor.

Previously she was Deputy Fund Director of one of the largest CDFIs in the UK, and has experience of the social enterprise, charity and private sectors. Her experience of assisting companies to survive and thrive has been gained across a broad range of sectors and in companies of all sizes.

In addition to her work at Walsh Taylor she works for other private companies, including non-executive and trustee positions.

Emma Mifsud
Insolvency Practitioner

After graduating from Leeds University in 2005 with a BA Hons degree in Criminology, Emma worked for a regional law firm in both the property department and insolvency and banking department. Whilst doing so Emma gained a Graduate Diploma in Law at BPP University.

Emma then joined a national accountancy firm in 2009 gaining experience in personal insolvency before moving to a Leeds based firm. At this firm Emma specialised in bankruptcies, IVA’s and negotiating informal agreements with creditors. In 2013 Emma gained her CPI qualification.

Since joining the firm in December 2013, Emma has taken on a portfolio of personal and corporate insolvency cases to extend her knowledge and expertise in all areas of insolvency.

In December 2017 Emma become a licensed appointment taker under the Insolvency Practitioners Association, she is JIEB qualified.

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