TOYS and gifts retailer Hawkin’s Bazaar is understood to have been bought out of administration by its biggest shareholder.

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Hawkin’s Bazaar and its parent company, Tobar, based near Beccles, fell into administration shortly after Christmas, since when around 480 shop workers and head office staff have been made redundant.

The admistrators, from London-based Zolfo Cooper, have closed most of the company’s 65 retail outlets, with only seven listed on the Hawkin’s Bazaar website today as still trading.

These include branches in Braintree and Norwich, while stores in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds are among those closed.

According to reports, the administrators have now agreed the sale of the remaining shops, together with the Hawkin’s Bazaar website and an associated wholesale business, to private equity firm Primary Capital.

Primary Capital acquired a 50% stake in the Tobar Group in 2006, in a deal valued at £42million, and is understood to remain its biggest shareholder. The deal was also been backed by Lloyds TSB, which invested £22m.

The Hawkin’s Bazaar chain expanded rapidly in the following years but, together many other retailers, has experienced tough trading in recent months amid the squeeze on consumer spending from muted wage growth and high inflation.

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