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Bankrupt retailer Republic draws interest from founder, private equity firms

14 Feb 2013

Republic BelfastThe founder of embattled fashion chain Republic is reportedly considering teaming up with a private equity firm to acquire the group, which plunged into administration yesterday.

Better Capital, Apollo Global Management and Carl Brewins, who started the chain as a market stall almost thirty years ago, are all interested in the business according to Retail Week.

It did not say where the information came from.

Republic is currently owned by private buyout specialist TPG Capital, which bought the retailer in a £300m deal in 2010.

TPG turned out to be far less fortunate than Republic’s previous owner Change Capital, which achieved a return of four times on its investment from the sale.

The buyout giant has invested heavily in the chain, having opened 16 stores during its ownership to bring the total to 121.

But an unexpected, dramatic decline in sales in late January proved fatal for the chain.

Republic has appointed Ernst & Young as administrators. Hunter Kelly, head of corporate restructuring at E&Y, commented, “The impact on cash flows has resulted in the business being unable to continue to operate outside of an insolvency process.

“Unfortunately, it has been necessary to make 150 employees at the head office in Leeds redundant.”

The business is the latest in a string of UK high street names to hit trouble since Christmas, including music and entertainment store HMV, home movie rental company Blockbuster and camera business Jessops.

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