Britain's women's clothing firm Viyella, which dates back to 1784, has become the latest well-established retail firm to call in administrators. There has been speculation for days that the future of the company, one of the UK's longest established clothing manufacturers, was uncertain.
The design and retail chain, which has 120 stores and concessions in the UK as well as an online sales operation, employs hundreds of staff. It is owned by Birmingham-based investment group Harris Watson, which said in a statement: "Following an assessment of the current economic situation and the prospects for the future, the directors have reluctantly decided that they have no alternative but to place the business into administration. "We believe there will be a strong interest in the Viyella brand and hope the joint administrators will be able to conclude an early sale which protects the brand name and many of the jobs within the business. "We should like to express our thanks to all the Viyella team for the hard work they have put into the business. Unfortunately the current economic downturn has undone all the efforts of the last five years." Unions said they hoped there would be a strong interest in buying the chain. Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "City fat cats and their hangers-on who brought us the credit crunch have now brought down another iconic brand. "The clothing jobs that were once a mainstream of manufacturing first migrated to China, while those within retail have gone as well now" Earlier this week crystal and china maker Waterford Wedgwood also went under administration, with 2,700 jobs at risk in the UK and Ireland. Administrators Deloitte are hunting for a buyer for Waterford Wedgwood, best known for Wedgwood pottery, Royal Doulton and Waterford crystal. Waterford - which collapsed after talks over a possible sale to a US private equity firm failed and lenders withdrew support - will continue to trade as a going concern. Chief executive David Sculley said he is "optimistic" a buyer can be found but question marks now hang over the future of its 1,900 UK retailing and manufacturing staff, including 600 at its manufacturing base in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent. The Irish arm has around 800 staff based in Waterford.