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Oasis and Warehouse Are Bankrupt as Coronavirus Rattles British Fashion Retail

Citing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, U.K. fashion group Oasis Warehouse is bankrupt and has appointed Deloitte as an administrator.

The Oasis, Warehouse and Idle Man owner will lay off 202 employees and furlough an additional 1,801 workers, with 41 members of its head office staff to stay on to assist with the administration process. During this time, the company will continue to sell wares online. It operates 92 standalone stores in the U.K., in addition to 437 shops located within other stores.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the entire retail industry and not least the Oasis Warehouse group,” said joint administrator Rob Harding. “Despite management’s best efforts over recent weeks, and significant interest from potential buyers, it has not been possible to save the business in its current form.”

Oasis and Warehouse is not the first fashion company to falter amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, U.K.-based department store chain Debenhams appointed administrators for the second time in 12 months, announcing plans to liquidate its Irish business. The company has placed most of its roughly 20,000 workers on unpaid leave through the government’s furlough scheme. Fellow British retailer Laura Ashley declared insolvency in March, blaming the virus for its ultimate demise. And multiple reports say that footwear retailer Office has been put up for sale by owner Truworths International amid ongoing difficulties.

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“Despite Warehouse improving its fashion credentials over the last couple of years and Oasis bolstering its marketing campaigns using celebrities such as Frankie Bridge and Katie Piper, the brands have failed to stand up against stronger players that are more front of mind amongst their target customer base,” said Sofie Willmott, lead analyst at Global Data. “As demand for clothing continues to be decimated by a lack of social occasions, we expect to see further high street casualties over the coming month.”

According to a Global Data report from March, 20% of U.K. fashion spend could be wiped out for 2020 because of the coronavirus. Global Data added that apparel and footwear sales could fall by 11.1 billion pounds ($13.5 billion) in 2020 compared to 2019.

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