Updated: 5th February 2020
The clothing retailer Exhibit has entered administration after struggling with the impact of a “general downturn in trading”.
A total of 12 stores and four concessions operated by the business, principally in Northern Ireland under the brand name Cucco Retail Limited, are now being closed with around 100 people set to lose their jobs as a result.
Exhibit was first established in 1983 and has remained competitive as a womenswear retailer for more than three decades.
But a downturn in demand for its products and changes to customer behaviour are cited as having brought about the need for the business to be entered into administration in recent days.
Staff who have now been let go by the business have expressed their frustration and disappointment at the situation.
Administrators have said that their appointment reflects the difficulties that independent retail businesses have been facing throughout the UK in recent times.
“A general downturn in trading conditions, coupled with a significant change in consumer spending patterns over recent times, has significantly impacted on the company’s trade and has resulted in the appointment of joint administrators,” a statement from administrators said.
“The joint administrators and their staff are currently undertaking an immediate assessment of the financial position of the company and its assets.
“Our immediate priority is to communicate with the key stakeholders of the business, including employees, creditors and landlords.”
Two of Exhibit’s stores are located in the Republic of Ireland, with the other 10 found in Northern Ireland, where the business has been a popular and highly regarded retailer for several decades.
The business has previously been owned by Colin Rankin, who is the elder brother of celebrity chef Paul Rankin.
Among its primary operating locations were two stores in Belfast at Castlecourt and Park Centre, in the Northern Irish town of Ballymena and the cities of Lisburn, Newry and Derry.
Companies House records show that the business has been renamed and changed ownership structure a number of times in recent years, with its most recent accounts showing that the retail operation made annual losses worth around £190,000.
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