Ipswich: Jobs at risk as TJ Hughes calls in administrators while Thorntons announces stores to close

DEPARTMENT store chain TJ Hughes is likely to become the latest high street victim of the economic slow down today, putting about 4,000 jobs at risk nationwide.

The Liverpool-based chain, which runs 57 stores, including one in Ipswich’s Buttermarket shopping centre is understood to have given official notice that it intends to appoint an administrator over the next ten days.

If it fails to pull through, the group will join furniture chain Habitat and fashion retailer Jane Norman in going into administration.

Meanwhile chocolate retailer Thorntons dealt another blow to the high street by announcing plans to close up to 180 stores.

The group said it will exit at least 120 outlets over the next three years as their leases expire, while it will also consider the future of an additional 60 shops over the same period.

It is unclear at this stage whether Ipswich’s Tavern Street will be one of the stores to close.

TJ Hughes was bought out by its management team in March following reports that it had been hit by the withdrawal of credit insurance for its suppliers following a difficult period of trading.

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The homewares sector has suffered heavy sales declines in recent weeks as nervous consumers put off purchases of big-ticket items such as fridges and TVs.

It has also been hit by January’s rise in VAT to 20% from 17.5% and the decline in the housing market, which is discouraging people from investing in improving their properties.