La Senza looks for some “Spandex”

Yesterday saw the publication of the long-awaited review of the British high street by retail guru Mary Portas. Portas hasn’t pulled any punches in her six-month-long study of the demise of the great British high street, with local councils, landlords, supermarkets and large out of town shopping malls all being identified as contributing to the downfall of our locally-based high street retailers.

What I find especially interesting about this is that, for the two days prior to the report being published, the media wheeled out a number of other so-called retail gurus to speculate or put forward counter arguments to what I suspect they knew was coming in Portas’s report. The interviews that I saw tried to counter the argument for large out of town shopping centres and the choices that such shopping malls offer to consumers.

Portas’s report got an unexpected boost late yesterday evening with the announcement that La Senza, the private equity-owned lingerie chain located in such shopping centres had asked KPMG, its advisers, to  review all possible strategic options, which in M&A terms could mean anything from selling off selected stores, administration or looking to raise additional outside capital.

The timing of the unfortunate situation La Senza finds itself in could not be any worse for an already struggling retail industry. Portas makes a point in her report where she says that “during the boom years many extremely mediocre businesses survived and flourished”. The retail recession is now biting so deep that even non-mediocre businesses who have built up successful globally recognised brands are struggling to survive.

Filed under: advisors, retail, administration