Jane Norman collapse spells trouble for small firms

Countless orders in jeopardy

Hundreds of small fashion businesses could see their orders go up in smoke following news that high-street giant Jane Norman has entered administration.

The iconic retailer, which has been a favourite of British consumers since the 1960s, closed all of its 90 stores on Saturday, with debts of £140m.

It is understood that Jane Norman bosses are in discussions with a number of potential buyers, including Debenhams and Edinburgh Woollen Mill, over a ‘pre-pack’ sale.

Such a deal would enable Jane Norman to avoid paying much of its existing debt – bad news for small firms which are owed money for existing invoices.

Suppliers in limbo

It also seems certain that hundreds of orders will now never be delivered – which will lead to problems for suppliers up and down the country.

One supplier, who refused to be named, told us he stands to lose around 60% of his business as a result of Jane Norman’s collapse, adding:

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“Jane Norman is one of our main customers; our business may even be jeopardised by their problems. I’ve been in the business for 14 years, and we’ve never had news like this. For us to find a company which will become as big a customer as Jane Norman could take a couple of years.

“However we hope they will be taken over by another company and the orders will keep coming through.”

Meanwhile Nikki Hesford, director of Miss Fit UK – which only recently began supplying to Jane Norman – said:

“Our order is currently being made in China for delivery in July so our loss isn’t as great as some since we still have possession of the stock, although what we are going to do with it is anybody’s guess!

“My opinion is that suppliers will not get paid, and we are aware that some of our larger manufacturing competitors are owed in excess of £60-70,000.”

Wider problems on high street

The collapse of Jane Norman comes less than a week after Habitat went into administration, having run up losses of £90m over three years, and points to a wider malaise on the high street.

Richard Dodd, speaking on behalf of the British Retail Consortium, told us:

“We’ve had a sequence of high-profile retail failures, and it’s clear evidence of the pressures retailers and customers are under. People are less confident about their own job prospects, and this is leading them to be even more cautious in their shopping.”

However Dodd expressed optimism that, “in time, things will improve. The pain that we’re going through now is unavoidable, because the economy has to get on a firmer footing for the long term.

“The government is right to tackle the deficit, and that does mean cuts which undermine consumer confidence.”


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