Third PwC administrator appointed to Laura Ashley

20 April 2020 1 min. read

A third joint administrator has been appointed for UK retailer Laura Ashley, following a court hearing in April. Rachael Wilkinson will now assist Robert Lewis and Zelf Hussain with proceedings, due to Lewis’ heightened workload with other clients tapping PwC’s restructuring services.

Laura Ashley is a British textile design company now controlled by the MUI Group of Malaysia. It was founded by Bernard Ashley, an engineer, and his wife Laura Ashley in 1953, growing over the next 20 years to become an international retail chain. While its sales totalled over £276 million in 2000, however, the following 20 years have seen the firm enter a sustained period of decline.

After struggling for some time, 2020’s Covid-19 pandemic proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, with Laura Ashley becoming the first retailer to fall victim to the “significant” drop in trade that the virus caused. The company has appointed administrators from PwC, putting 2,700 jobs at risk.

Third PwC administrator appointed to Laura Ashley

Initially, Laura Ashley appointed Robert Lewis and Zelf Hussain from professional services giant PwC as administrators to Laura Ashley and its subsidiaries, Premier Home Logistics, Laura Ashley Investments and Texplan Manufacturing. Now, however, a third joint administrator has been appointed for Laura Ashley amid pressures caused by the coronavirus crisis.

An insolvency court hearing in mid-April saw an application made to add Rachael Wilkinson, a PwC Director, to the team working on the retailer’s administration. According to Madeleine Jones, counsel for the applicants, the application for a third administrator grew out of Lewis’ many “competiting duties,” rather than “out of any difficulty that has already arisen.”

Restructuring consultants have experienced keen demand during the Covid-19 lock-down, as many firms which had been struggling before the crisis could no longer fend off creditors. Due to this, Judge Catherine Burton made an order approving the appointment for extra support as a precaution.