Butchers chain Crawshaw cuts 350 jobs after falling into administration

More than 350 jobs have been lost at Crawshaw Group after the Yorkshire-based chain of butchers went into administration and shut two-thirds of its stores.

It is the latest high street retailer to go bust after Evans Cycles, House of Fraser, Toys R Us and Maplin, while a string of other well-known names have shut dozens of stores via an insolvency process known as a company voluntary arrangement.

Crawshaw, which was founded in 1954, said it appointed Ernst & Young as administrators on Friday. It shut 35 stores and its distribution centre at Astley, with the loss of 354 jobs.

The remaining 19 stores and Crawshaw’s other distribution centre at Hellaby remain open and continue to employ 261 people. The firm is continuing its trial of three butcher’s counters in Spar stores.

The administrators have put the business and assets up for sale and have begun talks with interested parties “with a view to agreeing a sale over the coming weeks”.

Crawshaw was forced into administration after several years of losses and the failure to raise more money from shareholders to fund a revamp of the business.

Along with other high street retailers, Crawshaw has been hit by rising rents, higher business rates and fragile consumer confidence in the run-up to Brexit. It has also been under pressure from the rise of the discount supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl, which have forced other supermarkets and Crawshaw to cut prices.

The company has 42 high street shops and 12 factory outlets across the Midlands and north of England. Of the 19 stores that are still trading, nine are factory stores.

Its new chief executive Jim Viggars, who took over in May, had plans to open more of those larger out-of-town shops, with parking, that sell big packs of fresh meat. They are cheaper to open and fit out, and have performed better than the smaller high street stores, which also sell hot food such as whole cooked chickens, pies and filled baguettes.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, the entrepreneur known as the “chicken king”, is Crawshaw’s biggest shareholder with a 29.7% stake in the business and is an adviser to the board. His 2 Sisters Food Group also supplies Crawshaw.

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