Britain’s biggest specialist bathroom retailer has gone into administration, threatening more than 500 jobs.
Bathstore’s 135 shops will stay open while BDO, the administrator, tries to find a buyer. Most of the company’s 531 staff work in its stores, but 124 are based at the head office in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
Ryan Grant, a restructuring partner at BDO, said that Bathstore had failed to overcome the challenges facing the retail sector, and added: “The appointment was made after several months of difficult trading and the failure of talks to find a buyer.”
Bathstore was founded in 1990 by Patrick Riley and Nico de Beer in Croydon, south London. It was bought by Wolseley, the building materials group now known as Ferguson, before being sold to Endless, a private equity firm, in 2012. Warren Stephens, 62, an American billionaire, backed a management buyout in 2014.
Bathstore made a pre-tax loss of £22.3 million in the year to July 2017, its most recent accounts show. It began a turnaround plan last year, with its owner injecting a £15 million loan. It hired Ian Herrett from Wolseley UK as chief executive in May last year.
Economic uncertainty has reduced the demand for home fittings. Better Bathrooms, Bathstore’s rival, went into administration in March.