Over 1,000 jobs are under threat amid reports that fashion retailer Store Twenty One is struggling to meet rent payments at its highstreet stores.

Debt collectors have been called following complaints from landlords and the company has ceased trading from its website today, according to a report in the Telegraph.


Store Twenty One employs 1,000 staff at more than 200 stores in the UK, primarily on the south coast.

Looking set to become the next highstreet victim of the recession, it is reported that bailiffs were called to a number of stores over the weekend to collect stock, raising fears about unpaid rent, according to The Mail on Sunday.

Restructuring
Store Twenty One, known for selling lingerie designed by the model Katie Price, initially formed in 1932 as a manufacturing business called QS supplying Marks & Spencer and other retailers.

It listed on the stock market in 2002, before being bought in 2007 by Grabal Alok, an Indian textile manufacturer, and rebranded as Store Twenty One.

It is understood that the retailer has sparked the interest of turnaround specialist GA Europe and Hilco, which has acquired the debt of entertainment retailer HMV in order to "urgently assess its financial position".

Highstreet casualties
The fashion retailer is the latest in a long line of casualties suffering from a prolonged sales slump on the highstreet.

Highstreets up and down the country now resemble ghost towns as the empty shops rate reaches a new high of 11.3%. Battling numerous challenges such as a spike business rates – which have risen by over 10% in the last two years – coupled with a drop in footfall due to the recession and the rise in out-of-town retail parks, many retails simply cannot survive such tough conditions.

Urgent action
The British Retail Consortium is calling on local MPs to put help for the highstreets at the top of their agendas for 2013, to prevent further decline and shop closures. The BRC is also requesting the Government to freeze business rates, which are set to rise by 2.6% this year.

New British Retail Consortium Director General, Helen Dickinson said: "MPs understand that high streets are focal points for communities and essential to local economies. But many high streets are facing a real endurance test in these challenging times, and rising operating costs are making matters worse.

"The Autumn Statement didn't include a pledge to freeze business rates next year, but there's still time for the Government to do the right thing. Another steep rise would pose a serious threat to vulnerable town centres and mean fewer jobs, especially for young people."



More stories