One of Huddersfield’s best-known independent stores faces voluntary liquidation.
Department store Peters of Huddersfield called in insolvency experts last week and its shop in the Packhorse Centre closed on Sunday.
While the coffee shop remains open for business the two-floor retail showroom is shut.
Signs on the door say: “Closed due to re-branding” but, the Examiner can reveal, the company has crashed.
Thirty staff, most of them part-time, have been made redundant.
Peter’s was run by LPQ Ltd and the company called in Huddersfield-based Brook Business Recovery on Thursday of last week.
Charles Brook, of Brook Business Recovery, could be appointed liquidator at a creditors’ meeting to be held at Huddersfield Media Centre on Friday, February 5 at 10.30am.
It is only 12 months since Peter’s directors David and Caroline Whittle moved the store from its long-term home in nearby King Street.
Peters was set up in 1982 by Mr Whittle’s father Peter, a lifelong retailer who was previously joint managing director of Kayes department store, which he joined in 1948.
Kayes and Peters have been a mainstay of the town centre for more than six decades and David worked alongside his father for 25 years. Peter died aged 87 in 2013.
Peter’s downsized from its three-storey King Street premises last January and opened its Coffee Mill coffee shop in the former RSPCA shop in the Packhorse Centre and the department store next door.
At the time Peters was to be the “anchor tenant” of the Packhorse Centre which was due to undergo a £2 million revamp.
The old premises in King Street is now The Chinese Buffet, and both Mr and Mrs Whittle attended the VIP launch earlier this month.
Mr Whittle declined to go into the reasons for the failure of the store but said: “It’s been an extremely difficult trading period but we are confident, that with enough innovation, the business can survive.”
He said he hoped to buy the Peters assets from the liquidator and added: “We are working 24/7 to try to make the shop better and stronger than it was before.”
He said he hoped to re-employ some of the staff who lost their jobs.
Mr Whittle said the landlord had been very supportive and the couple were continuing to run the coffee shop under licence from the landlord.
In a statement, insolvency practitioner Mr Brook said: “As one of the most significant and long-established independent retailers in Huddersfield, Peters has demonstrated considerable resilience throughout the recession.
“However, in a sector that is dominated by national retailers that actually plan to operate a heavily discounted product offering, it became extremely difficult for the company to compete on equal terms.
“Peter’s has always had an extremely loyal customer base but, in what continues to be a difficult financial climate for many, it has been a struggle to sustain turnover and that had a disastrous impact on profitability.
“I believe there is still a need for a retailer like Peters that offers something that is distinctly different to the national retailers and is owned and operated by local people who are attuned to the quality fashion preferences of Huddersfield clientele.
“It is always likely to be a challenging business to run but it is a niche without direct comparison locally.”