TJ Hughes in cash crisis

Department store TJ Hughes was today on the brink of administration, placing more than 4,000 jobs in jeopardy.

HUGHES 2 TS 28

Department store TJ Hughes was today on the brink of administration, placing more than 4,000 jobs in jeopardy.

And chocolate shop Thorntons revealed it was closing up to 180 stores, affecting more than 1,100 employees.

TJ Hughes owns 57 stores, and employs more than 200 locally at branches in Lichfield, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Kidderminster. The company, due to mark its centenary next year, gave official notice that it intends to appoint an administrator over the next 10 days.

The discount department store, bought out by its management team in March, was operating as normal today. It is the biggest store in Lichfield, operating over two floors in the Three Spires Shopping Centre, and recently took over the former Woolworths store in Park Street, Walsall.

The store’s two-storey branch is the largest store in Wolverhampton’s Mander Centre, where centre director Arnold Wilcox-Wood said today: “It is absolutely business as usual. I have been there this morning and the staff are not saying much – naturally they must be worried.”

Thorntons today said it will lose at least 120 outlets over the next three years as their leases expire, while it will also consider the future of an additional 60 shops over the same period.

The survival plan will leave Thorntons with around 180 to 200 company-owned stores, although in the majority of locations it hopes franchisees will open outlets.

Its strategy review will see the company increasingly focus on its commercial division, which sells Thorntons-branded chocolate through other retailers, and grow online sales. It also aims to make the business less dependent on seasonal events such as Christmas and Easter by increasing the number of gifts it sells.

Today carpet shop Carpetright revealed its annual profits had slumped by 70 per cent in the face of “very challenging trading conditions”.

Pre-tax profit for the year to April 30 was £6.6 million, down from £22.3m a year earlier, with trading hit by consumers cutting back as government spending cuts bite.