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Menswear retailer closes down its three remaining stores in Suffolk and Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 15:24 18 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:25 19 December 2018

Blue Inc store in the Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich. Picture: Bethany Papworth

Blue Inc store in the Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich. Picture: Bethany Papworth

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More empty shop windows have appeared in East Anglian town centres as one of the largest menswear retailers in the UK has gone into administration for the second time in two years, after failing to find anyone to take it over.

In the run up to Christmas, Blue Inc has now closed down its stores in Norwich’s Castle Mall, Ipswich’s Sailmakers and Broad Street in King’s Lynn.

Last month, the company shut its shop in Market Gates shopping centre in Great Yarmouth.

Blue Inc officially entered administration last Monday through the administrators Begbies Traynor, who confirmed that there are no current plans to reopen its stores in Norfolk and Suffolk.

However, the company is planning to retain its stores in Eastgate in Basildon, Clacton Shopping Village and the Grafton Centre in Cambridge.

“While discussions are in progress regarding the overall future of the brand, we cannot make any further comment at this time,” said Begbies Traynor in a statement.

Blue Inc’s collapse comes after it launched a CVA last year and then recorded losses of £15.6 million in the 18 months to July 2, 2017.

Padma Textiles and logistics company Uniserve pulled together £2.6 million in funding in an attempt to save the fashion retailer, but it was not enough to stave off administration.

The company, which began trading in 1912 as A Levy & Sons, a hat shop in East London, operated stores in Romania, Poland and Jamaica as well as across the UK.

The company traded via a number of brands, chiefly as Mr Byrite, a chain of discount stores selling menswear and from 1997 as Blue Inc, an affordable brand primarily aimed at young men.

In 2006 Marlow Retail Ltd purchased the business and later bought 47 stores from collapsed rival The Officers Club, then in 2012, bought another 20 stores from the administrators of the boyswear and menswear retailer D2.

Blue Inc was once tipped for a £60 million float in 2014, when it was chaired by former Marks & Spencer boss Lord Stuart Rose.

Begbies Traynor is now in talks with two parties interested in taking over some of Blue Inc’s 31 stores, as well as one potential buyer of the brand.

The downfall of Blue Inc is symptomatic of the current crisis that has gripped the British high street, although its not just bricks and mortar retailers that are struggling. Yesterday, the online fashion giant Asos revealed that its profits have also slumped .

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