BDO administrators rescue Kinky Knickers' manufacturer

by Rachael Singh

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20 Feb 2014

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Mary Portas

BDO ADMINISTRATORS have saved the lingerie manufacturer behind Mary Portas' Kinky Knickers range.

Kerry Bailey and Patrick Lannagan from BDO were appointed joint administrators to Manchester-based Headon & Quarmby, a 79-year-old family-run manufacturer of lingerie. The business produces underwear to a number of high street retailers and brands, including exclusive manufacturing for Mary Portas' underwear range, Kinky Knickers.

The business and assets were sold to former managing director David Moore - who has started a new company, Headen & Quarmby (UK) Limited. The new operation is set to recommence manufacturing as soon as possible.

All 33 staff were made redundant in January by the administrators. However, Moore told Accountancy Age that 12 employees, including himself, are now working at the new business. 

Earlier this year Headen & Quarmby incurred bad debts and the deterioration in its cash position forced its closure. The bad debt follows from some of Headen's customers entering administration and their debt obligation being unfulfilled. This led to a financial "black-hole" which could not be filled explains Moore. 

Administrators Bailey said, at the time of her appointment, that a "drop in post-Christmas orders from key customers and a decline in sales volumes had significantly affected the business" was also to blame for the company's demise.

However, the management, staff, and support of independent retailers have enabled the management team to finance a bid for the business.

Moore hopes that by the end of the year all 33 staff will be re-employed. 

BDO business restructuring partner Bailey added: "An extensive search was made to find the right buyer for the business and assets of Headen & Quarmby Limited. David and his team have the determination and expertise to take the business forward on a more secure financial footing, and we wish them the best of luck."

The factory was part of a high-profile attempt to focus on the UK manufacturing industry in a Mary Portas TV show, "Mary's Bottom Line".

During the show eight apprentices were taken on at the manufacturer which doubled its workforce in a bid to keep up with demand. It recently revealed plans to launch a sleepwear and lingerie range Ella&M and planned to open up an academy in which it would train staff to sew.

Portas (pictured) said: "I was so sorry to hear about the issues H&Q had in January. I'm thrilled they've had the confidence and the vision to re-build."

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