Fears for staff as Discover Leisure goes into administration

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AROUND 250 staff at a Yorkshire-based caravan and motorhome retailer face an uncertain future after the company went into administration.

Last night, Mark Firmin and Paul Flint of KPMG were appointed joint administrators of Discover Leisure, and its trading subsidiary Signlease.

Discover Leisure trades from sites in York, Newbald, Delamere, Chorley, Darlington and Birtley. The administrators said they were seeking a sale of the business, but have closed it in the short term while they pursue offers.

A number of redundancies are anticipated and will be confirmed in the coming days.

In a statement, the administrators said: “The directors recently sought investment in an attempt to keep the business trading, however, their efforts proved unsuccessful.”

Mr Firmin, KPMG’s Northern head of Restructuring, said: “Discover has faced a difficult market over an extended period of time, with persistently depressed consumer demand for high value discretionary items in particular. While it is regrettable that we have had to close the dealerships over the weekend, we are working towards a solution to rescue some or all of the business.”

Earlier in the day, shares in Discover Leisure, which employs 250 staff across the north of England, were suspended after the caravan retailer admitted it was unlikely to secure vital funds needed to keep it trading.

The East Yorkshire-based group, which went through a debt restructuring in 2009, this week warned it has been hit by weak consumer sentiment and needs to secure more finance.

Yesterday the company said while it has been working “vigorously” to secure additional funds, it looks unlikely to do so in time, and thus requested the suspension of its shares, “pending clarification of the company’s financial position”.

Chief executive Trevor Parker yesterday declined to comment beyond the statement. Shares were suspended at 0.25p per share.

“Despite the extremely challenging trading conditions and financial environment, the board has had some success in finding financial investors who have indicated an intention to invest additional capital or acquire certain assets of the company,” said the group.

“However, the board now believes that it is increasingly unlikely that an acceptable solution to the funding issues which the group faces can be secured in the necessary timeframe.”

The company has been hit by consumers’ reluctance to spend on big ticket items.