Edwards of Manchester, the independent shoe shop that has held pride of place in Barton Arcade since 1830, has been forced to close its doors to customers for the first time in nearly 200 years. The iconic retailer, which supplies made-to-measure shoes to its well-heeled customers, entered into company insolvency just last week.

Although the shop’s immediate future looks bleaker than its illustrious past, there is hope that the retailer can be saved from liquidation and allowed to trade again. An insolvency firm is currently busy exploring the firm’s options.

Rescue bid launched after store’s sudden closure

The city centre store, which is the oldest independent shoe shop outside of London, has been located on the same site since it opened in the 1800s. Unfortunately, the store closed suddenly last week, with no information on the store’s website, Facebook or Twitter page to explain why it’s no longer trading, or whether it’s likely to be open again.

The store was emptied of all its stock more than a week ago due to the ongoing changes in market conditions. The proliferation of online shoe retailers and a significant decline of footfall in Manchester city centre are thought to be responsible for the company’s demise.

Edwards is famed for selling classic men’s and women’s shoes produced using traditional techniques. This included brands such as Barker, Loake, Church, and Crockett & Jones, all of which originated from the historical shoemaking centre of Northamptonshire.

Insolvency experts to help retailer ‘explore its options’

Despite the store’s closure for more than a week, there is still hope one of the country’s oldest retailers could be saved after a team of company rescue experts were called in by Edwards’ director Steve Fitzsimmons.

The first steps taken by the team of insolvency practitioners were to launch an investigation into why the retailer was forced to close, and to call a creditors’ meeting to be held later this month. A senior practitioner at the insolvency firm, said: “Edwards is one of the oldest retailers in London and has enjoyed a buoyant position in the city for many years, catering for all types of clients, including well-known footballers.

“Unfortunately, due mainly to a change in the market perspective and a significant drop in footfall in Manchester, the business has diminished to the extent that in its current format and location, it is simply no longer viable.

“However, it is hoped that the business can be rescued and that it will be able to trade again in the near future.”

What are the options for Edwards?

When attempting a company rescue, there are several options the insolvency practitioners will consider to turn the company’s situation around. A company voluntary arrangement (CVA) is one option. A CVA can be used to effectively ring-fence the company to protect it from creditor pressure and any aggressive legal processes, such as a winding-up petition, which could be used to force the closure of the company. A CVA can be used when a company is overwhelmed by debts but has good long-term prospects if it is given the time it needs to repay its creditors.

Other options include an administration and pre-pack administration, as well as specific creditor negotiations with HMRC or other major trade creditors to arrange suitable repayment terms that allow Edwards to continue to trade.

If you are worried about the future of your business, seeking professional insolvency assistance immediately will give your business the very best chance of survival. Call 08000 746 757 for a no-obligation discussion of your circumstances.