Blow to borough economy as retailer Better Bathrooms goes into administration
The borough's economy has suffered a massive blow and hundreds of people made redundant after a national retail empire based in the borough went into administration.
Better Bathrooms, which has its headquarters in Leigh, abruptly shut its stores on Friday, with 325 jobs gone across the country.
A notice attached to the Wigan store on Wallgate said administrators had been appointed as it had ceased trading. A second note informed customers it had shut "due to unforeseen circumstances".
FRP Advisory, which has been appointed to oversee the administration, confirmed all its stores and warehouses are shut in a statement.
It blamed major financial problems and a period of poor sales for the closure.
Phil Pierce, joint administrator and partner at FRP Advisory, said: “The challenges facing the UK retail industry are well known and are putting immense pressure on businesses operating in the sector.
"Unfortunately, Better Bathrooms has suffered from severe cashflow difficulties and an extended period of soft trading, which has forced the business into administration. Without significant investment or the cash to continue trading, the difficult decision was made to cease operations.
“We will be working with all the affected staff to support their claims through the Redundancy Payments Service during this difficult time. We know that customers will also be particularly concerned, and they should email [email protected] with their details.
"We will be writing to all customers as soon as possible. “We urge any parties who might be interested in acquiring the assets of the business to come forward as soon as possible.”
The phone lines were dead on Friday afternoon while a message on the website said it was "currently unavailable" and directed customers to an enquiry form.
Shocked messages on social media were posted by staff who had been made redundant and customers all over Britain wanting to know what would happen to their orders.
The administrators' statement said 10 head office and warehouse facility staff were being temporarily retained to oversee the winding-up of the company.
The firm boasted of being one of the UK's largest independent bathroom retailers with a total of 13 stores, two recently opened, and two trade counters, including one in Leigh. Its customer service centre was also close to the borough in Glazebury.
Better Bathrooms was founded by Colin Stevens, who had previously sold golf equipment and clothing on eBay. He then sold bathroom taps, before expanding to a wider range of bathroom equipment.
In May 2018, Stevens retired as director of the company and was replaced by George Mills Bramston Adams.