Clothing retailer M&Co to close 170 shops with loss of up to 1,900 jobs

<span>Photograph: Geoffrey Swaine/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Geoffrey Swaine/Rex/Shutterstock

The Scottish retailer M&Co is to close all 170 of its stores after falling into administration before Christmas, with the loss of up to 1,900 jobs.

The clothing and homeware retailer’s brand has been bought by Peterborough-based AK Retail Holdings, the owner of the larger sizes brand Yours Clothing, Long Tall Sally and Bump It Up Maternity but the deal did not include M&Co’s physical stores.

It is understood some of the 170 stores have already closed and more will follow over the coming weeks, with some expected to trade into April. AK Retail, which is owned by the Yours Clothing founder, Andrew Killingsworth, is understood not to have taken on any of M&Co’s head office team.

Killingsworth said all routes to market, including online and stores, were being considered for the future of M&Co. “I am delighted to have acquired this longstanding brand and that it is going to be kept alive,” he said.

A statement released via several of M&Co’s stores’ Facebook pages said: “Unfortunately we haven’t received the news we would have hoped for during our administration period, and would like to share this news with you.

“As we haven’t received any funded, deliverable offers that would result in the transfer of the company’s stores or staff to a potential buyer, this means that all of our stores will close.

“The M&Co ‘brand’ has been purchased, but unfortunately this does not include a future for our stores, website or staff.”

M&Co, which traded online as well as via a large network of stores, called in administrators from the advisory firm Teneo in December. Teneo said M&Co had experienced “a sharp rise in its input costs, which has coincided with a decline in consumer confidence, leading to trading challenges”.

The company closed 47 shops in 2020 as part of a previous pre-pack administration deal that cost 400 jobs, out of a total workforce at the time of about 2,600.

M&Co was founded as Mackays, a pawnbrokers, in Paisley, Renfrewshire, in 1834 and switched to selling clothes in the 1950s under brothers Len and Iain McGeoch. In 2005, the company began rebranding its stores as M&Co, a process completed in 2020.

The retailer is the latest in a string of well-established brands to exit the high street in recent years, including Topshop, Oasis, Warehouse and Debenhams.

While retail rents have fallen, the number of shoppers visiting shopping centres and high streets has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, while retailers face rising energy and labour costs.