Deathwatch: Barratts and Priceless Shoes in adminstration again

retail deathwatch There’s a strong sense of déjà vu around here today – or should that be déjà SHOE? That’s because footwear retailers the Barratts Priceless Group has gone into administration for the second time in two years.


Keen-eyed administrators Deloitte have been brought in to run tings, tings in this case being 191 Barratts and Priceless Shoes stores across the land, with a further 371 concessions. The blame is being laid squarely at the door of the harsh economic climate and the not-very-harsh weather climate, with pre-winter shoe sales down owing to the unseasonably mild weather of recent months.

Deloitte said it would continue to keep the stores trading as it seeks a buyer for all or parts of the business as a going concern. Hopefully it won’t end in bad news for the 3,840 Barratts Priceless Group staff whose jobs are under threat following the bad news.


  • Delenn
    How many times will this company be able to emerge from administration? A sad day for employees. Get used to Retail Deathwatch - there will be a load more to come in the coming month.
  • Sawyer
    Companies always blame external factors. How about Barratts tell the truth and attribute their failure to their lousy product range? I wanted to buy shoes in spite of the mild weather, but my trip to Barratts lasted all of 30 seconds as their choice of footwear was crap.
  • Mark H.
    About time the government woke up and reduced VAT. Supporting all of these out of work retail employees is not going to be cheap.
  • Spyro
    I have every sympathy for the employee's who will potentially be out of work because of this but lets not fool ourselves. Barratts sold a pretty poor range of pretty poor quality shoes and this isn't really *that* surprising. I can't say as I would miss them. I can't see how reducing VAT would help. The VAT difference ( if it was reduced ) on your day to shopping is negligible. The point is that struggling businesses who previously could stay afloat due to easy financial credit lines are now finding it harder to stay afloat due to banks less keen to lend and shoppers being more careful with their money. So you will see places likes Barratts/Blacks etc go into receivership as they have large debts and people aren't buying from them. But generally these are firms who have been in trouble for some time. You are not seeing 'healthy' companies go under.
  • Kevin
    @Mark, but at the same time you can't support companies that as Sawyer mentions, don't help themselves bybeing rubbish. I would think that if you were working for a company that was previously in administration you'd always be looking over your shoudler waiting for this day.
  • Mark H.
    'The point is that struggling businesses who previously could stay afloat due to easy financial credit lines are now finding it harder to stay afloat due to banks less keen to lend and shoppers being more careful with their money. ' You're out of date by a couple of years. The first round of companies going bust Woolworths, MFI etc probably did have their poor business practises exposed by the downturn. We're into a new stage now where previously healthy companies are going down (not sure how healthy Barratts were but there is a general trend). Comet is a very good example of that and there's many more like them.
  • spyro
    @Mark H - maybe you're right but Comet has been (financially) going downhill for some time. It isn't like last year it made £100m profit and this year and £20m loss. Profits have been shrinking/losses growing for a while. Recent financial events have made this more acute though. The same with barratts & blacks ( which nearly went into receivership a few years ago ). My own thought is that people are still spending money but are being a lot more savvy with it - ie making fewer purchases 'big ticket' purchases ( 'do we really need a new 50 inch plasma ?' ) and when spending, going online getting a better deal ( amazon etc ). Of any of the companies that are going into receivership, have any of them been genuinely surprising ? Like, 'I can't believe company x has gone into administration, they made 20m profit last year and seemed really well positioned to withstand a consumer slowdown....'. I can't think of one....
  • Mark H.
    @ spyro Well isn't that the problem? There's no retailer left (except the supermarkets) who you'd be surprised if they went bankrupt. Comet like may retailers were making a healthy profit a few years ago. Their like for like sales are now down nearly 20% year on year. Yes you can blame the management etc but the basic fact is that it's looking increasingly likely that a big proportion of our major retailers are not going to be around for much longer, taking thousands of jobs with them (Comet alone employ 10,000 people). I just think the government could do more to help instead of piling on the misery with more and more cuts, pay freezes etc.
  • Sicknote
    A real shame and a company that has been on the UK high street for many years now; I remember about 30 years ago as a child shopping there and my parents always knew they were getting quality.
  • spyro
    I'm not necessarily saying I disagree with you but what would you like the government to do ? Personally i think the gov't should reduce VAT back to 17.5% but more for a psychological effect of having a little more money in your pocket - the actual effect that it would have on your purchases is minimal ( in terms of lower prices. The difference on a £60 purchase with lower vat would be £1.50. ). There is some debate about the amount of money that would be raised by lowering the vat ( more money in your pocket so you spend more ) vs the extra tax collected by the higher rate but you're spending less. If comet will not ( or cannot ) remain competitive against the likes of amazon and other internet retailers then it is inevitable that profits will fall. Electronic retailers are always hit hard because they are essentially luxury items ( tv's/computers etc ) which purchasers tend to shy away from when there isn't so much money in their pocket. However people still seem to have money to spend £150+ on a pair of dr dre's beats headphones. Anyway, I'm yet to be sorry to see any of the shops go who have gone into receivership. There are still plenty of alternatives on the high street or online. Please note I'm not referring to the employee's who can't find new jobs, who then have to sign on and then cost the gov't more in unemployment benefit. Obviously that isn't good especially in such large numbers.
  • JonB
    It's interesting to see that all the high street stores that are going under or releasing bad trading figures are blaming the mild weather. Last year they blamed the cold weather stopping people shopping before Christmas. Smells funny to me...
  • JonB
    The above ^ should have read "people NOT shopping".
  • Ellie
    Despite the poor product range that people have spoken about and the excuses that the company may have made in relation to how healthy or unhealthy the business was, it is the staff that suffer in cases like this, some are just about getting by as it is and now they face losing their jobs and much more.
  • Emma
    I cant believe some of the comments I've seen on here. I work for the company and yeah we're going through hard times which am sure every single company out there is whether they want to admit it or not. But most of the people working for the company depend on there jobs to live and actually don't want to lose their job and claim money off the government. So you should all be grateful if your in a job and not worrying about losing it.
  • shinkyshonky
    What would jesus do...
  • Sicknote
    Jesus would probably just say ".....Look busy, I'm coming"
  • Dick
    Actually, Jesus is doubly to blame. He only ever wore old sandals and didn't have a huge shoe collection. And he suggested giving money to the poor rather than spending it on shoes.
  • Mike H.
    Actually Dick, it is a common misconception that Jesus, (or J as I call her, when she pops round) had a reduced shoe/sandal collection. In fact, 'J' has an extensive collection, ranging from Barratts to Jimmy Choo & Clarks to UGGs. The sandals are just for public apperances and drawing shoots.
  • catherine
    As a fashion design/ business and cultural studies student this is one of the fashion retailers I have had my eye on for a while. For starters they don't have a niche in the market. I personally have never purchased anything from Barratts. I have always seen the quality of the shoes and aesthetics quite cheap looking and poor quality. (I'm happy to buy shoes from primark) so I'm not a designer snob). Barratts have in recent years tried to follow trends and fashions, however what they are offering is too expensive for the fad fashion market they are attempting to compete in. Also they are always too late to deliver the product. I also don't believe they even know who their target market really is??? mums and older women go to clarks, yes they are pricey but you know your buying a perfectly fitting shoe as far as RTW goes. topshop is fast fashion, on a higher highstreet budget. you know its straight off the catwalk. and i do understand not everyone cares about 'fashion' perse.

What do you think?

Your comment