Jobs at risk on black day for high street

Toys R Us Copdock. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Toys R Us Copdock. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Retail staff are facing a worrying time after two big names collapsed into administration on a black day for the high street across the UK.

Top toy retailer Toys R Us and electronics retailer Maplin, which both have stores in Ipswich, are continuing to trade as normal as buyers are sought.

Thousands of retail jobs are at risk across both chains. A spokesperson for the Toys R Us administrator said they could not say specifically how many were employed at Ipswich. Across the board, including its headquarters and distribution, it employs about 3,200 staff across more than 100 stores. Maplin employs 2,500 people across 217 UK stores.

Administrator Moorfields has been appointed to conduct what it called an orderly wind-down of the Toys R Us store portfolio, although the firm insisted it is still seeking a buyer.

Simon Thomas, Moorfields partner, said: “We will be conducting an orderly wind-down of the store portfolio over the coming weeks.

“All stores remain open until further notice and stock will be subject to clearance and special promotions.

“We’re encouraging customers to redeem their gift cards and vouchers as soon as possible.

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“We will make every effort to secure a buyer for all or part of the business.”

He added: “Whilst this process is likely to affect many Toys R Us staff, whether some or all of the stores will close remains to be decided. We have informed employees about the process this morning and will continue to keep them updated on developments. We are grateful for the commitment and hard work of employees as the business continues to trade.”

Founded in 1985, Toys R Us is one of the UK’s largest toy retailers with over 100 stores nationwide and over 1,500 stores worldwide in 33 countries.

Maplin, owned by private equity firm Rutland Partners, called in PwC on Wednesday after attempts to rescue the chain failed, PwC is still attempting to find a buyer for the group. Chief executive Graham Harris said: “I can confirm this morning that it has not been possible to secure a solvent sale of the business and as a result we now have no alternative but to enter into an administration process. During this process Maplin will continue to trade and remains open for business.”