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More than 800 jobs at risk as Victoria’s Secret falls into administration

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

More than 800 jobs are at risk after the UK arm of lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret tumbled into administration.

The retailer, which has 25 stores across the UK, confirmed that it has hired administrators from Deloitte after being impacted by the coronavirus lockdown.

The insolvency firm said it will conduct a “light touch” administration at the retailer – which has 785 employees on furlough – as it seeks to find a potential buyer.

Rob Harding, joint administrator at Deloitte, said: “This is yet another blow to the UK high street and a further example of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the entire retail industry.

“The effect of the lockdowns, combined with broader challenges facing bricks and mortar retailers, has resulted in a funding requirement for this business, resulting in today’s administration.”

However, like many other firms that have gone bust during the pandemic, Victoria’s Secret had been struggling long before the virus came to the UK.

The retailer has 25 leasehold stores across the UK (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Falling sales and questions over its owner Leslie Wexner’s ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein had dogged the company for a long time.

In May private equity vehicle Sycamore Brands pulled out of a 525 million US dollar (£407 million) deal to take a 55% stake in Victoria’s Secret.

Mr Harding added: “We will now work with the existing management team and broader stakeholders to assess all options available for the future of the business.

“As administrators we’d like to thank them and all of the employees for their support, at what we appreciate is a difficult time.”

A woman passes a billboard outside the Victoria’s Secret store in New Bond Street, London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Victoria’s Secret’s online business is not owned by Victoria’s Secret UK and will continue as usual.

Choosing a so-called “light touch” process will allow the business to keep trading, while putting off its debts for the time being.

It could give Deloitte enough time to sell off assets, or reduce costs by re-negotiating rents.

Administrators said they aim to get the firm out of administration.

The lingerie brand becomes the latest in a long line of businesses that have fallen victim to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While many have managed to stay afloat by clinging onto government support, several businesses have been forced to call in administrators.

Debenhams, Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley are among the big high street names who have fallen victim to the virus.