Mark Firmin and Richard Fleming from KPMG LLP were today appointed administrators to Empire Direct plc and its subsidiary company Empire Property (UK) Limited, at the request of the directors.
The company, which is based in Leeds, has been established for 25 years and markets itself as the UK's largest independent retailer of electrical goods with a turnover of £150m. A significant proportion of its business was online though it also had 14 retail outlets around the UK.
The business was unable to continue trading so all the outlets have been closed and the administrators have made 158 of the 350 employees redundant.
Mark Firmin, joint administrator, and KPMG Restructuring Partner said: "Empire Direct has been severely affected by the economic downturn and experienced a significant reduction in sales from the middle of last year. In addition, the business really suffered when credit insurers withdrew cover in October. Low stock levels and operating losses mean the business cannot continue to trade in administration.
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"We are working hard with the remaining employees to establish a list of customers with outstanding orders and much of our immediate effort will be focused on communicating with them.
"Within the first few weeks of the administration, we are aiming to contact all customers who have paid for goods which they have not received. Customers can contact us using the dedicated email address which can be accessed via www.empiredirect.co.uk. Alternatively, customers can log their details with the call centre on 0871 472 9000."
The stores being closed are: Bolton, Bradford, Chingford, Derby, Dudley, Leeds, Loughborough, Manchester, Nuneaton, Perivale, Romford, Wetherby, Huddersfield, Doncaster.