Is the High Street in Yorkshire and the rest of the UK in danger of being all dressed up – but with nowhere to go?

As the Yorkshire media spotlight turns to more insolvency fears in the beleaguered retail sector, that’s the question being posed by analysts.   Mounting concerns over the predicted rise in insolvency cases have been triggered by the demise of Yorkshire clothing retailer Greenwoods.  After almost 160 years as a menswear specialist, with stores across Yorkshire and the North, it became the first high-profile insolvency victim of 2019.  Like us, it had strong Yorkshire roots – for many decades it was headquartered just down the road from us in Guiseley, the small West Yorkshire town nestling between Leeds and Bradford also famed as the birthplace of the likes of Harry Ramsden fish and chips and Silver Cross prams.  As Yorkshire insolvency experts, we share the pain felt by the company as its financial struggles were seemingly so tough it collapsed into liquidation.

In its heyday, we all probably know someone who bought their black tie dinner suit, or hired their morning suits for a wedding, through Greenwoods.  However, retail analysts fear their business failed to move with the times and was no longer made-to-measure for the High Street.  With fewer weddings choosing a formal dresswear approach, and a more casual dress sense becoming the norm in the workplace, the need to be frequently suited and booted is on the wane.  This is the second time the company has been hit by insolvency. It entered administration for the first time a few years ago when administrators were successful in finding a buyer – and a cash injection – to turn around its insolvency and revive its flagging fortunes.

But this time the financial problems leading to insolvency seem terminal, with staff at its chain of 40 stores being told to hang up their tape measures one final time.  As a result of the insolvency, we have seen the shutters come down at shops across Yorkshire and surrounding counties – from Barnsley to Burnley, Bradford to Bridlington, Doncaster to Darlington, Harrogate to Halifax, Huddersfield to Hull, and Scarborough to Selby – as well as its flagship stores in Leeds, York and Sheffield.The loss of these hundreds of jobs has thrust insolvency back into the headlines amid weak trading figures at the peak festive and sales shopping period.

HMV was another Christmas insolvency victim in a year that was still reeling from the likes of Poundworld, Maplins and Toys R Us cashing up for the final time.  They have all contributed to a rise in business insolvencies nationwide during 2018, with all eyes now awaiting the final quarter’s insolvency figures.  When Greenwoods was founded in a hatter’s shop in Bradford in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was making giant strides as a politician the other side of the Atlantic.Closer to home an author was putting the finishing touches to his latest novel – one with a title that the High Street will be desperately hoping is a prophecy for its year ahead.

That writer was Charles Dickens. And his book was … Great Expectations.

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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