Poor trading forces Hiho into administration

Jewellery chain falls apart just two months after wholesale arm launch

Jewellery and gift retailer Hiho has gone into administration just two months after launching a wholesale division, following what it is calling “extremely difficult trading conditions”.

Hiho was running 14 shops in the UK as well as an online shop and was a keen attendee of mobile events such as the Badminton Horse Trials. It also launched a wholesale silver jewellery business at Spring Fair in February.

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In a statement on its website, Hiho said that the former management team has bought back certain assets from the administrators and intends to continue to run its website and mobile events.

The statement from Hiho managing director Andrew Ransford read: “Due to extremely difficult trading conditions on the high street the company that previously owned the shops has entered administration. The former management team have purchased certain assets from the administrators with a view to running this website and mobile events. ”

It is unclear at present which company is handling the administration, or what will happen to the 14 Hiho retail stores and staff.
Hiho had been running a 50 percent-off sale in the days before it announced that it had fallen into administration.

Back in November, Ransford had admitted to Professional Jeweller that he was bracing himself for a dip in sales in the run-up to the crucial festive trading season as bad weather hit footfall. At the time, he said: “What we are hearing is that it is going to be tough weather and that will affect peoples’ ability to get out and shop.”

However, despite the gloomy conditions on the high street Ransford had claimed to be upbeat about Hiho’s prospects. He said: “We believe that it will be a great Christmas and are looking forward to it with relish.”

In February the retailer dipped its toe into the wholesale market, taking a stand at Spring Fair in Birmingham to promote its range of silver jewellery to retail buyers, with retail prices starting at £29. At the time Ransford said that the wholesale division had got off to a successful start with talks initiated with “a number of larger independents and small chains”.

In 2010, Hiho drafted in ex-Liberty brand director Frances Card to conduct a review of merchandising at the chain. The process was branded a success with Card refreshing the store’s merchandising while in-house design manager Drew Gibson introduced a new look to the chains stores.

At the time of the revamp Hiho non-executive director Emma Warren said that the chain had promising growth potential. At the time she told Professional Jeweller: “The growth potential for Hiho is huge. It is such a grounded brand and has grown over the past couple of years and has a really strong customer base.”

Hiho was established in 1995, employed about 55 staff and in 2009 had a turnover of £3.5 million. The retailer specialised in silver jewellery and co-designed collections with celebrity stylist Nick Ede.



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