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Around 400 Jobs At Risk Despite Dreams Sale

(c) Sky News 2013

Sun European Partners has bought beds retailer Dreams following its collapse into administration.

The deal, overseen by administrators Ernst & Young, saves 1,600 jobs at the chain - but around 400 positions remain at risk.

The private equity group bought the company's business and assets, including 171 stores, for an undisclosed sum.

The group's head office at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and two UK factories have also been sold to Sun European, which already owns sofa chain SCS Upholstery.

A buyer is being sought for the remaining 95 stores which are continuing to trade for the time being, joint administrator Alan Hudson said.

He added that high street retailers have been battling with "unprecedented conditions" over recent years.

"Dreams is a well known market leader, but in common with many others has suffered as a result of this depressed retail environment, a rapid expansion of its store portfolio and onerous lease liabilities," he said.

"Whilst recent performance has improved, it has seen a decline in like for like sales across its store portfolio as well as its operating margins being squeezed.

"This has resulted in the business being unable to continue to operate outside of administration."

Dreams, which sells beds and related products, has 266 stores across the UK and employs around 2,000 people.

It was founded by Mike Clare, who sold the company to private equity firm Exponent (NasdaqGS: EXPO - news) in 2008 for around £200m.

He had wanted to buy the business back and keep all the stores open, but was understood to be turned down by the Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) and Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) .

News (NasdaqGS: NWS - news) of the sale comes as travel company Thomas Cook (Xetra: A0MR3W - news) said it was planning to axe 2,500 UK jobs and was consulting on proposals to close 195 of its 1,069 high street agencies.

There have been a number of high-profile administrations so far this year, which have resulted in the closure of all Comet and Jessops stores and a number of HMV and Blockbuster shops.

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