High street chain Paperchase that has a store at Whiteley Shopping Centre in trouble - as lockdown closures hammer sales

MORE retail jobs are set to be lost as a stationery chain has announced it is on the brink of collapsing into administration.

Paperchase, which has 127 stores across the country including one at Whiteley Shopping Centre, said that its sales had been hammered by closures at the end of last year.

The firm, which has 1,500 employees, confirmed it has filed a notice to appoint administrators from PwC to advise on its insolvency process.

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Paperchase launched a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring in March in an attempt to turn around its fortunes but saw this affected by the pandemic.

It is understood the retailer's decision to move towards administration was particularly driven by poor sales in November and December amid lockdown measures and tiered restrictions.

Typically, November and December trading account for 40 per cent of the company's annual sales.

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It said online sales had performed strongly but this had not been enough to mitigate the overall impact of temporary closures.

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The announcement comes after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the third English lockdown, forcing non-essential retailers to shut their doors once again.

It also follows other retailers such as Debenhams in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, announcing they will not be reopening after the lockdown ends.

Debenhams will set about closing the rest of its shops in 2021, and joins household names such as Arcadia, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, M&Co, TM Lewin, Cath Kidston and Laura Ashely, which all closed high street stores in the past year.

A Paperchase spokesman said: ‘The cumulative effects of lockdown 1.0, lockdown 2.0 - at the start of the Christmas shopping period - and now the current restrictions have put unbearable strain on retail businesses across the country.

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‘Paperchase is not immune despite our strong online trading.

‘Out of lockdown we've traded well, but as the country faces further restrictions for some months to come, we have to find a sustainable future for Paperchase.

‘We are working hard to find that solution and this NOI (Notice of Intent to appoint administrators) is a necessary part of this work. This is not the situation we wanted to be in.

‘Our team has been fantastic throughout this year and we cannot thank them enough for their support.’

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Paperchase also has stores at Southampton’s Westquay Shopping Centre, St George’s Street in Winchester and North Street, Chichester.

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