Administrator for BeWise turns to CC for advice

Clifford Chance is acting in the year’s biggest retail insolvency so far as the beleaguered sector suffers another casualty.

The magic circle firm, led by Mark Hyde, is advising Grant Thornton as the administrator for Hamsard 2353, the owner of clothing retailers QS and BeWise.

Hamsard called in Grant Thornton on 10 February. Joint administrators Malcolm Shierson, Martin Ellis and Daniel Smith have said the company will keep trading while it reviews Hamsard’s financial situation.

The plan is to sell the business as a going concern, but it is thought that a number of the company’s 343 stores may have to close with resultant redundancies. QS and BeWise are part of the discount clothing retail sector and have a combined workforce of 4,500.

Hamsard is the latest in a string of retailers to have called in the administrators in recent months as fierce competition and depressed sales figures take their toll.

As first reported by The Lawyer (27 January), since December Sock Shop (Poppleton & Appleby, advised by Cobbetts), Unwins (KPMG and DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary), Kookai (Deloitte and Ashurst) and MVC (Kroll and DLA Piper) have all turned to administration as a means of restructuring.

Despite the recent activity in the retail sector, traditional administrations have become an ever-smaller part of the work carried out by insolvency and restructuring groups. Clifford Chance’s recent transactions include acting for JPMorgan in the NTL debt restructuring.