The joint administrators of Derbyshire retailer Bennetts (Irongate) Limited, which trades as Bennetts Department Store in Derby and Ashbourne, have reported ‘significant levels of interest’ from potential buyers of the business.
Paul Mallatratt, who is joint administrator – along with Louise Freestone – of Bridgewood Financial Solutions said: “We are very encouraged by the wide-ranging interest being shown in this brand and are working closely with all interested parties.
“We note the crowdfunding initiative [launched on February 27] by one such party, which also presents an opportunity for individuals from the local community and further afield to become directly involved in helping to save Bennetts.”
The joint administrators expect discussions with potential buyers to continue over the next few weeks and any formal announcements will be made once a sale is legally completed. In the meantime they are continuing to trade both stores as a going concern. Customers are encouraged to continue coming to the stores, which are open between 9.30am and 4.30pm from Monday to Saturday, and gift vouchers will continue to be honoured. A small number of redundancies were required to be made, but the majority of staff have been retained.
Billed as ‘the oldest department store in the world’, Bennetts went into administration on February 8. Bridgewood Financial Solutions said: ‘Bennetts has been a stalwart of Derbyshire high streets for over 300 years, with the first shop opening on Iron Gate in Derby in 1734.
‘However, its loyal customer base has not been sufficient to sustain it through a very challenging period on the high street, with the perfect storm of weakening consumer confidence, increasing competition from online retailers and escalating costs taking its toll on the business.’
Paul said: “Bennetts is an iconic retail brand which, over many years of trading, has earned a reputation for offering good quality products and great customer service. Given its pedigree, we are hopeful that a buyer can be found, so Bennetts can continue to serve the local community for years to come.”