From Laura Ashley to Debenhams: the biggest retail collapses of 2020

2020 was a punishing year for the high street, with 177,000 jobs lost as a string of household names succumbed to administration during Covid-19. The pandemic has accelerated the painful restructuring of an industry that is a big employer but where fewer physical stores are needed to serve shoppers in the internet age. Here are some of the biggest retail collapses throughout 2020.


1 December With no rescue deal agreed, the troubled chain started closing down sales in its 124 stores before Christmas, as it announced plans to liquidate. About 4,000 head office and store jobs have already gone as a result of its second administration in a year and its 12,000 remaining staff face an uncertain future.


30 November The collapse into administration of Sir Philip Green’s fashion group affected 13,000 jobs. The Arcadia brands, which include Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, are being auctioned off. So far only the plus-size label Evans has changed hands but all its outlets are to close, meaning hundreds of job losses. Arcadia had already cut 500 head-office jobs in the summer of 2020.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group

The fashion group, with 21,500 staff, owned by the entrepreneur Philip Day, fell into financial crisis in the autumn. Its brands – Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Ponden Mill, Peacocks, Jaeger, Austin Reed and Jacques Vert – followed each other into administration and it has cut 860 jobs so far.


5 August The Renfrewshire-based clothing retailer, formerly known as Mackays, was restructured via a pre-pack administration. The move resulted in the closure of 47 of 215 stores and 400 job losses.


30 June The furniture chain went under, with the administrators announcing an initial wave of 240 redundancies among its workforce of 1,500.

TM Lewin

30 June The shirtmaker called in the administrators. It closed all 66 of its outlets permanently, with the loss of about 600 jobs.

Monsoon Accessorize

11 June The fashion brands were bought out of administration by their founder, Peter Simon, in a deal that resulted in the closure of 35 stores and 545 job losses.

Oasis and Warehouse

15 April All stores closed after the fashions brands went into administration, resulting in 1,800 job losses. The brands were subsequently sold to the online fashion group Boohoo.

Cath Kidston

21 April More than 900 jobs were cut at Cath Kidston’s retro retail label when a rescue deal brokered for the business closed all 60 of its UK stores.

Laura Ashley

17 March The chain went into administration, with 2,700 job losses, after rescue talks were scuppered by the pandemic. It was acquired by the Gordon Brothers investment firm and is set to make a return through a partnership with Next.

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