Thursday, 7 May 2020

Clarks calls in more advisors as pressure mounts




UK footwear giant Clarks has called in an army of advisors as plans are worked on to restructure the firm and fears mount that more stores than expected could close.

Management at the nearly-200-year-old firm is being directly advised by Deloitte, while KPMG is advising the shareholders from the founding family and PWC is acting on behalf of its syndicate of lenders. Last year, Clarks had also appointed McKinsey to review its strategy.

The information was first reported by Sky News.

The appointments come after losses widened and sales fell sharply in its latest year with business apparently having failed to pick up since then. In fact, the current lockdown, with all physical shoe shops being closed, has heaped more problems onto the firm’s existing pile of woes.

The company had earlier reported that it was under “significant stress” and would make a “meaningful” number of store closures in the next few years.

This week, a spokeswoman said the firm “continues to face the fast-changing challenges of operating in today’s environment of rising economic and political uncertainty. Our leadership team is currently reviewing all options to protect our business, our people and the Clarks brand for future long-term growth. It is our policy not to comment on specific commercial appointments.”

The three advisory companies also declined to comment on the situation. 

Clarks currently has 345 UK stores and over a thousand across its markets that include Europe and the US. In its latest year, its losses almost tripled to just under £83 million as sales fell 6% and store visits dropped by 6.2%.

The company, which is controlled by the descendants of the Clark brothers who founded the firm in 1825, has previously denied it was mulling a company voluntary arrangement. But it has been working hard to close under-performing stores as quickly as possible and has seen costs in the tens of millions of pounds linked to store write-downs.

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