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Blue Inc fights to avoid being fashion victim

Sky News logo Sky News 13/11/2018

Blue Inc's roots can be traced back to 1912. Pic: Blue Inc © Other Blue Inc's roots can be traced back to 1912. Pic: Blue Inc The menswear retailer Blue Inc has been put up for sale as it battles to avoid becoming the latest fashion victim on Britain's increasingly troubled high streets. 

Sky News has learnt that the owners of loss-making Blue Inc, which used to be chaired by the former Marks & Spencer boss Lord Rose, have asked Begbies Traynor, the professional services firm, to find a buyer for the business.

Sources said the chain, which has already been through a string of restructuring processes to shed unprofitable stores, was seeking new owners to take control of the business "in the short term".

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‎It was unclear on Monday what Blue Inc's fate would be if it did not secure a swift injection of new capital, although industry insiders cast doubt on its ability to survive for long.

"It has been through so many periods of near-collapse it's a wonder it's still around at all," said one.

The attempt to find a buyer for Blue Inc comes amid a period of tumult‎ for the retail industry, which is fighting a lethal cocktail of rising costs and shifting consumer habits.

This year, fashion chains including New Look have axed dozens of stores, with department stores such as Debenhams and House of Fraser facing the prospect of axing dozens more.

Famous retail names such as Toys R Us have gone bust, with others, including Poundworld and Maplin, heading the same way.

House of Fraser © PA House of Fraser The carnage has strengthened the relative position of some prominent figures.

Mike Ashley, the billionaire chief executive of Sports Direct international, has exploited the opportunity created by rivals' troubles to snap up House of Fraser and, more recently, Evans Cycles.

The string of failures has left industry figures begging for more government support, but accused Chancellor Philip Hammond of doing too little in his recent budget to give them a fighting chance.

A new fund aimed at helping local communities regenerate high streets, and a package of financial support on business rates, have been largely targeted ‎at smaller independent retailers, rather than the major chains which account for the majority of the sector's workforce.

Last week, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a report that a net 1123 shops disappeared from high streets across the UK during the first six months of 2018 - equating to 14 stores closing every day.

Blue Inc could not be reached for comment, while Begbies Traynor declined to respond on Monday.


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