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Suffolk/Essex: Jobs saved as Sports Direct acquires Republic stores

17:12 28 February 2013

The Republic store  in Ipswich

The Republic store in Ipswich

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MORE than 2,100 jobs, including nearly 50 in Suffolk and north Essex, have been saved at fashion retailer Republic after the sale by its administrators of 116 stores to Sports Direct International.

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The Sports World group, founded by Newcastle United FC owner Mike Ashley, has also taken over the stock, along with the group’s head office in Leeds and its websites and brands SoulCal, Fabric and Crafted.

The deal, the value of which has not been disclosed, comes after Republic called in administrators from Ernst & Young earlier this month.

Administrator Hunter Kelly said: “In what has been a very challenging time and volatile climate for retailers, it is particularly pleasing to have completed the successful sale of Republic, saving 2,100 jobs across the UK high street and at its Leeds-based headquarters.

“The brand Republic is well-recognised and well-respected by customers for offering quality, high-fashion goods and it is a testament to its strength that Sports Direct has made this investment to secure its future and high street presence.”

Among the Republic stores saved are those in Ipswich (which has 12 employees), Colchester (23) and Chelmsford (14). The only branches not transferring to Sports Direct are five in Scotland which have already been closed.

Around 250 jobs have been lost as a result of Republic’s collapse into administration, including nearly 100 at the five stores closed and 150 staff made redundant by the administrators at the group’s headquarters.

Following their appointment earlier this month, the administrators said that Republic, which started as a men’s denim retailer in 1986 under the Best Jeans brand, had been hit by a “sudden and rapid decline” in sales at the end of January, following a pick-up in sales in the run-up to Christmas after after poor trading results during the autumn.

Republic, which targets the competitive youth fashion market, sells brands including Jack Jones, SoulCal, Diesel and Firetrap.

It was bought by private equity firm TPG in June 2010 in a deal worth around £300million, with the founders understood to have retained a significant stake.

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