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Vergo announces closing down sales at all 19 stores

17:21 26 May 2010

THE troubled department store group which took over East of England Co-operative’s department and home stores business is to hold closing down sales at all its 19 stores, it was announced yesterday.

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Buyers are still being sought for Vergo Retail Ltd, which went into administration earlier this year. Earlier this month, closing down sales were announced at nine stores, but now administrators say further store closures “cannot be ruled out”. Joint administrators Sarah Bell and Steven Muncaster, partners at MCR, confirmed the final day of trading for Lewis’s department store in Liverpool will be on Saturday, May 29. To date, a total of 341 employees have been made redundant across the business and one store in Dovercourt closed. Final closure dates for the remaining 18 stores, which include ones at Ipswich, Stowmarket, Colchester, Clacton, and Witham, have yet to be confirmed.

“Discussions are ongoing with a number of different parties wishing to acquire part or all of the business,” said Ms Bell. “This process is being run in parallel with a discount sale in order to generate sufficient cash to fund the business in the short term. Unless a purchaser can be found for the whole business, further store closures during the coming weeks cannot be ruled out.”

Vergo was established in 2007 and operates from a head office in Liverpool, employing a total of 942 staff across 20 outlets before the staff cutbacks.

MCR says it is in regular talks with stakeholders including employees, trades unions and local government authorities.

The East of England Co-op clinched a deal with Vergo in July last year to take over its department and home stores business, while the society retained the freehold ownership of the buildings. Four of the stores were under threat of closure and at the time the deal was seen as a welcome reprieve for the staff and the outlets. Around 350 Co-op employees were transferred to the stores and Vergo was even given a year rent-free in the Co-op premises to support the deal.

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