Hope for some jobs at Hawkin’s Baazar and Tobar

Administrators called in to the Suffolk-based company behind Hawkin's Baazar said they hope to preserve some jobs.

Tobar, which has its headquarters at the Old Aerodrome in Ellough, near Beccles, formally went into administration today after experiencing 'exceptionally challenging trading conditions'.

The company which sells toys and gifts via a network of 65 permanent shops and through its websites and mail order business, employs 380 people. It has permanent shops in Castle Mall Shopping Centre in Norwich and Buttermarket Shopping Centre in Ipswich. Administrators said the permanent shops will continue to trade for the time being, but seasonal shops, such as one in Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich will close as planned.

Robin Knight, partner of the London restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper which has been appointed, said: 'We have taken control of the business and we need to stabilise the business. We are of the mind that there is a strong underlying business and we hope to be able to sell it in whole or in part. We have had a number of expressions of interest for all or parts of the business. That process is beginning in earnest now.'

He said that the administrators still needed to establish what shape the business was in.

'We believe there is a solid foundation here. We can realise value and hopefully preserve some jobs as well,' he said.

Tobar was founded in 1973.

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Zolfo Cooper said in a statement today it had appointed Peter Saville, Fraser Gray and Anne O'Keefe as the joint administrators of Tobar Group Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries.

Mr Saville said: 'In common with many retailers, the group has experienced exceptionally challenging trading conditions of late. At this stage we intend to continue to trade the component parts of the group whilst we seek a buyer for all or parts of its operations.

'We will be working closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that we identify the best possible outcomes regarding preservation of jobs, the value of the business and returns to creditors. As this work continues we will seek to make further announcements as appropriate.'

The statement from Zolfo Cooper added: 'Hawkin's Bazaar customers in possession of gift vouchers may continue to exchange these for goods as normal in any of the group's stores. Those customers seeking to make returns should look, wherever possible, to visit their local store where they will be permitted to exchange their goods. Cash refunds will not be provided. A full list of store locations and opening times can be found at www.hawkin.com.'

All suppliers who believe they are creditors of Tobar Group companies should make contact with the administration team via the following email address hawkinsbazaar@zolfocooper.eu. Please include details of your claim and full contact details.

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