UK High Street retailer rout rolls on as butcher gets the chop

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 7th November 2018

CRAWSHAW, a chain of UK butcher’s shops, has closed 35 stores and one distribution centre resulting in the loss of 350 jobs, the latest in a line of High Street retailers running aground.

Administrators from EY are trying to sell the business while 19 stores continue to trade (nine of them factory stores).

The collapse of the company came after several years of financial losses.

The company joins a growing list of British retailers forced to seek protection from creditors after being hit hard by competition from online shopping platforms and a rise in costs from the pound’s Brexit-induced weakness.

Anyone working in the retail industry worried about the future of their jobs should hope for the best but prepare for the worst, forecasters are saying.

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Crawshaw though is the latest high street retailer to go bust after Evans Cycles, House of Fraser, Toys R Us and Maplin, while a string of other well-known names have shut dozens of stores via an insolvency process known as a company voluntary arrangement.

Last month Karen Millen bought parts of the Coast brand after the clothing store fell into administration, and in September, fashion brand Orla Kiely collapsed.

Along with these other high street retailers, Crawshaw has been hit by rising rents, higher business rates and fragile consumer confidence in the run-up to Brexit.

It has also been under pressure from the rise of the discount supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl, which have forced other supermarkets and Crawshaw to cut prices.

Crawshaw in May floated plans to explore a big box, destination store model, larger out-of-town shops, with parking, that sell big packs of fresh meat.

They are cheaper to open and fit out, and have in the UK performed better than the smaller high street stores, which also sell hot food such as whole cooked chickens, pies and filled baguettes.

Though these stores have been a failure recently in Australia, see Tasman Butcher’s demise.

MORE: Bygone: Big box store, bulk meat buying

Ranjit Singh Boparan, the entrepreneur known as the “chicken king”, is Crawshaw’s biggest shareholder with a 29.7% stake in the business and is an adviser to the board. His 2 Sisters Food Group also supplies Crawshaw.