PwC has laid off some 57 more staff from Maplin’s headquarters in London while nine more staff have been let go in Rotherham.
The retailer’s chances of securing a third-party buyer are now extremely slim, with stores reportedly in danger of being closed before the Easter weekend. In total some 129 memebers of staff have already been laid off since PwC came in as administrators on February 29. “It is with real regret that we have made this decision,” said Toby Underwood, joint administrator and PwC partner. “We are grateful for the support of the employees during this difficult period.”
Underwood confirmed that 79 members of staff had retained there jobs at the London HQ, however he could not comment on the fate of the 2,500 employees working in 200 plus stores around the country.
Chief executive of Maplin Graham Harris announced the administration last month, saying that PwC ‘will’ keep the stores open for the time being.“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,” Harris said. “We believe passionately that Maplin has a place on the high street, and that our trust, credibility and expertise meets a customer need that is not supported elsewhere.”
The retailer's private equity owner Rutland Fund Management was in talks with Edinburgh Woollen Mill about a sale, but talks have now collapsed. PwC will keep the company’s 200 stores open and continue to run the retailer’s website while attempting to find other buyers. It has also been mooted that the brand will be sold separately from the business.
PwC said that its initial focus was to find a buyer for either all or part of the company, which is based in London and Rotherham. For the time being, stores will remain open and operating as usual. The administrator also said that staff had been paid their February wages and would continue to be paid for future work while the company is in administration.
A glimmer of hope for the under-threat members of staff come from retailer Dixons Carphone CEO Seb James, who offered to take on some Maplin staff should they be made redundant.