Clothing and homeware chain saved from administration

Clothing and homeware chain saved from administration

Fashion and home store chain Life and Style has been bought out of administration for £1.5 million.

The chain, which formerly traded under the name Ethel Austin, was saved by Ashloch Limited, which is owned by Sue Townsend.

Nearly 470 jobs, many in the north-west of the country, have been saved by the development.

Administrators reached a deal that will see 62 stores throughout the UK remain open, including shops in Chorlton, Harpurhey, Leigh, Middleton, Westhoughton and Wythenshawe.

Ms Townsend is a former director of academic book seller Blackwells and has proven herself to be a successful retailer in both UK and international businesses.

She was previously employed by Mothercare and BHS, and currently holds a non-executive role at the Edward de Bono Foundation as well as a similar directorship position at Warrington-based Global Thinking Systems.

Commenting on the sale yesterday, Ms Townsend said: "I am delighted with the conclusion to the purchase of the Ethel Austin chain and I am looking forward to the opportunities and challenges of returning this once great brand back to profitability."

The business's former operator and founder, Elaine McPherson, took charge of Ethel Austin shortly before it went into administration in early 2008.

She then bought the company and sister brand Au Natural but the venture soon failed.

Despite reviving successful divisions and renaming the chain Life & Style, the company once again went into administration in June of this year after suffering losses of around £3 million.

Unsurprisingly, Ms Townsend's decision to buy the firm has pleased representatives at Usdaw, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.

National officer John Gorle said: "This is great news for all the loyal and hard-working staff at the company and very welcome news for the high street in general.

"Usdaw looks forward to developing a good and constructive working relationship with the new owner Sue Townsend and I hope to meet with her as soon as possible to ascertain her immediate and medium term plans for the business.

"Usdaw will continue to do all we can to help revive the business and make it a success."

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