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2009 bankruptcies

Warning of 2009 wave of retail bankruptcies

Hundreds of high street retailers will collapse next year despite a last-minute Christmas spending rush, a retail insolvency expert predicted last night. The wave of bankruptcies caused by the recession will leave "big holes on the high street", and the failures are expected to include some of the most well-known names.

Nick Hood, a partner at insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor, warned: "There will be hundreds of smaller retailers going bust and up to 15 national and regional chains, including one or two that will really make your eyes water. "Woolworths was no great surprise, but there are going to be some real 'Oh my God' moments, which will leave big holes in the high street."

Some of the biggest retailers are understood to have seen their sales crash by up to 30% and several have described the current trading conditions as the worst in memory.

Whittard 'nears administration'
The Whittard of Chelsea chain of shops is understood to be close to calling in administrators after falling into financial difficulty. The owners of the business, which sells tea, coffee and crockery, are actively seeking a buyer, a source close to the company said. Ernst and Young had been lined up to act as administrators if needed, the source added.

Whittard 'nears administration'. Whittard has 130 stores in the UK and was founded by Walter Whittard in 1886. It was bought by the Icelandic investment company Baugur in 2005 for about £21m. Baugur itself was hit by turmoil in Iceland's economy earlier this year.

Baugur Group also own Hamleys, Aurum,goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb, Watches of Switzerland, Wyevale Garden Centre, Ecommera, Iceland, Julian Graves, Whittard of Chelsea, House of Fraser, Coast, Oasis, Principles, Warehouse, Whistles, and some of Debenhams, French Connection and Woolworths (RIP).

Who else? River Island? Top Shop? Monsoon? Warehouse? Austin Reed? HMV? DFS? Allied Carpets? Carpetright? Courts? Comet? Magnet? Wicks? Focus?