Harveys’ future uncertain as Bensons rescued in pre-pack deal

  •    Author: Mike Jasfer

Two of the UK’s largest furniture retail brands, Bensons for Beds and Harveys, entered administration yesterday.
Bensons was immediately sold back to Alteri in a pre-pack designed to shed existing debts, and salvage the majority of the bed retailer’s 242 stores and jobs plus its associated manufacturing site in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire – although it remains unclear what will happen to the Relyon manufacturing operation in Wellington, Somerset.
With the help of fresh investment of £25m, Alteri has pledged to reshape the Bensons store estate, and plans to have the Huntingdon site manufacture exclusively for the Bensons brand.
Harveys, however, remains in a more precarious position, and still part of Blue Group Retail. With the appointment of administrator PwC, and owner Alteri citing cashflow pressures as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, around 240 jobs have been lost, with a further 1300 at risk unless a buyer for 20 stores and associated manufacturing sites is found.
Its stores continue to trade for now, with a pledge that customer orders placed with both brands will be honoured.
Alteri bought the retail brands from troubled South African conglomerate Steinhoff International last November. Zelf Hussain, Peter Dickens and Yulia Marshall of PwC were appointed as joint administrators of the companies yesterday, with PwC’s Ross Connock appointed joint administrator of South Wales manufacturing unit Formation Furniture.
Then, Bensons, which has a near 70-year heritage, was the largest bed retailer in the UK by store number, and the third largest by revenue. Harveys, founded in 1966, was the largest furniture specialist in the UK by store number. The associated group of manufacturing companies has many years’ expertise in bedding and upholstery, and supplies the retail business in addition to a number of high street retailers.

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