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Britain's Next buys failed furniture retailer Made.com, 400 jobs axed

The Next logo is seen at a store of the clothing retailer in London

By Sachin Ravikumar

LONDON (Reuters) -British fashion retailer Next will buy the Made.com brand for 3.4 million pounds ($3.8 million) after the online furniture seller collapsed into administration, resulting in about 400 job losses.

Made.com hit the buffers on Wednesday, running out of cash as a weaker economy deterred Britons from buying new furniture. Retail giant Next bought its brand, website and intellectual property from administrators PwC.

PwC said in a statement the deal did not include staff and so there would be about 400 redundancies.

Made.com had a nearly 18-month run as a public company, selling sleek furniture online, backed by a large advertising budget. It performed strongly during the COVID-19 pandemic as shoppers, stuck at home, spent freely on sofas, coffee tables and lamps.

But the group ran into trouble, and out of cash, as supply chain disruptions hit its operations before Britain's economic downturn started to weigh on consumer spending, leaving it holding too much stock.

The appointment of administrators made it one of the highest profile British retailers to fail this year, in what is likely to be a testing time for the sector as consumers face one of the toughest financial squeezes on record.

The number of company insolvencies in England and Wales hit its highest level in the April-June period in nearly 13 years as surging energy prices took their toll on business, data showed last month.

PwC has taken control of Made.com's remaining assets including payments made to creditors. PwC said 4,500 customer orders already in the UK and Europe would be fulfilled, but many others would not.

"The company is a casualty of the headwinds being faced by all retailers, but more heavily by those selling big-ticket products," PwC joint administrator Zelf Hussain said in a statement.

Next, which trades from over 500 stores and online, has been picking up stakes in or acquiring smaller retailers in recent years including brands such as Victoria's Secret UK and Reiss.

($1 = 0.8756 pounds)

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar, additional reporting by Sarah Young and Yadarisa Shabong; Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter)