Ipswich: Jobs lost as La Senza concession closes

SEVEN jobs have been lost with the closure of the La Senza lingerie concession within the Ipswich branch of department store Debenhams, it has been confirmed.

But La Senza stores in Chelmsford and Norwich are among a total of 60 sold by the firm’s administrators to the Kuwait-based retail group Alshaya, which owns stakes in a number of British retailers including Debenhams, Next and Mothercare.

A total of 1,100 jobs have been saved as a result of the sale, including 14 in Chelmsford and nine in Norwich, and a further 16 at the Grande Arcade branch of La Senza in Cambridge, although a second branch in the city has closed with the loss of eight jobs.

La Senza announced just before Christmas that it planned to go into administration and announced a programme of 81 store closures on December 30.

The administrators, restructuring partners Richard Fleming, David Standish and Rob Croxen of KPMG, have now announced the closure of a further three stores and 18 concessions, including that at Debenhams in Ipswich.

It means that in total, 84 stores and 18 concessions have been closed, with the loss of around 1,300 jobs.

Mr Fleming said: “We are delighted that we have been able to rescue part of La Senza UK and such a large number of jobs, given the negative economic pressures faced by retailers in the UK.

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“Alshaya is a leading international retail operator with long standing links with the UK as the international franchise partner of a string of high street brands. This deal recognises the value of La Senza as a strong and popular high street brand with a loyal customer base.”

Mohammed Alshaya, executive chairman of Alshaya Group in Kuwait, said: “We are delighted to have reached agreement to buy these La Senza stores – saving jobs, protecting a great brand for consumers and strengthening our UK presence and links.

“This is a strategic investment for us and a positive addition to our extensive international retail portfolio. This is the first step in a long-term commitment to developing the La Senza UK business, which we believe has great potential.”

Meanwhile, Debenhams today announced that a surge in sales in the final week before Christmas had helped it weather tough autumn trading.

The company, which has 170 stores in the UK, Ireland and Denmark, said warmer weather throughout October and November impacted sales until a record Christmas week left trading for the 18 weeks to January 7 level on a year ago.

Shares jumped 8% after investors expressed relief at the trading performance, which compared with some forecasts for a decline of up to 2%.

Chief executive Michael Sharp said he was pleased with the performance: “We traded well despite the difficult environment as evidenced by strong sales in December, including record sales in the week before Christmas,” he added.

Much of the growth came from the internet after online trade jumped by 35% in the 18 weeks to January 7.