Vergo Retail

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Vergo Retail Ltd
Industry Retail
Founded 2007
Founder David Thompson
Defunct 2010
Headquarters Liverpool, United Kingdom
Number of locations
20 at peak
Revenue £15.824 million (2008) [1]
£(2.482) million (2008)[1]
Profit £(2.416) million (2008)[1]
Owner David Thompson
Number of employees
Divisions Department Stores
Homemaker Stores
Vergo at Home
Fashion, Home & More!
The Jewellery Store[3]

Vergo Retail Ltd was a department store business based in Liverpool, England, founded in 2007 and currently in administration. Vergo Retail ran 20 shops, consisting of nine department stores, including Lewis's of Liverpool, Robbs of Hexham, Joplings of Sunderland and Derrys of Plymouth and four others in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk; four Homemaker stores in Devon, four home and fashion stores in Essex and Suffolk; two home stores in Essex; and a jewellery store in Colchester.


Lewis's Department Store, Liverpool

Vergo Retail was formed in May 2007 in order to acquire Lewis's, Robbs and Joplings from Owen Owen Ltd which was in administration. The company was and is, owned by David Thompson, the owner of Owen Owen and a former director of Mothercare, Habitat and British Home Stores, and more recently director & shareholder of MK One which was sold in 2004 for £55m.[4][5][6]

In 2009 Vergo Retail entered a further phase of growth, acquiring the department store operations of two co-operative societies. First, in February 2009, Plymouth and South West Co-operative Society (Plymco) agreed to sell its non-food business to Vergo.[4] This consisted of Derrys Department Store in Plymouth, and four Homemaker stores in Devon and Cornwall.[4] Vergo Retail took control of these stores on 15 March 2009.[citation needed] Secondly, on 16 June 2009, it was announced that Vergo Retail would take over the existing East of England Co-operative Society Department Stores based throughout Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, with the 350 current staff employed by the East of England Co-operative expected to keep their jobs during the transfer. Department stores in Norwich, Ipswich, Great Yarmouth, Clacton-on-Sea and Colchester, along with six specialist home stores and one jewellery store, were transferred to Vergo Retail on 4 July 2009 with the East of England Co-operative Society retaining the freehold.[7]

Decline & Administration[edit]

On 22 January 2010 it was announced that Lewis's of Liverpool was to close by June 2010 as the lease from the landlords, Merepark, expired then and it could not be renewed owing to a planned redevelopment of the building. As a result a closing down sale was launched to sell around £5 million of stock, as well as fixtures and fittings. Vergo's Head Office, which is also located in the Renshaw Street premises, would continue to operate from there in the short term until alternative accommodation was available.[8]

Closing down sale at Lewis's.

On 7 May 2010 Vergo was placed into administration, with MCR appointed as the administrators.[2] From 11 May 2010 335 staff were made redundant and it was announced that there would be ten store closures within the next four weeks unless a buyer was found. These are Lewis's of Liverpool (already scheduled for closure), Robbs of Hexham, Joplings of Sunderland, Derry's of Plymouth, the "Fashion, Home & More!" stores in Witham, Clacton-on-Sea, Stowmarket and Dovercourt, the department store in Norwich and The Jewellery Store in Colchester.[9] This left ten stores open, namely the Homemaker stores in Kingsteignton, Launceston, Exmouth and Cothill (Plymouth); the Vergo at Home stores at Stanway (Colchester) and Clacton-on-Sea; the "Fashion Home & More!" store in Felixstowe and the Ipswich, Great Yarmouth and Colchester department stores. By 21 May 2010 Beales had lodged a formal notice of interest in Robbs of Hexham, whilst the administrators asked the Buccleuch Group, owners of the building, and Northumberland County Council to waive rent and rates for ten weeks, to allow the business to be continued to be marketed as a going concern.[10]

On 25 May 2010 it was announced that closing down sales would begin at all stores in the chain, managed by Hilco,[11] and Lewis's would close on Saturday 29 May. By this point the Dovercourt store had closed and 341 staff had been made redundant across the chain.[12] The administrators continued to negotiate with various potential purchasers, who were interested in all or part of the business. The sales were to ensure that there is sufficient cash to fund the business in the short term.[13] One of these parties was revealed to be Chris Dawson, owner of The Range, who said "I am interested in a few of the stores, parts of the group and all of the stock."[14] Tony Brown, chief executive of Beales, confirmed that he was still interested in Robbs[15] and Beales acquired Robbs on 4 June for £250,000.[16] By 26 June 2010 just 4 stores remained open, and these closed within a week.[17] Both the East of England Co-operative Society and the Co-operative Group offered their former employees compensation packages, despite not being legally obliged to do so.[18][19] In January 2011 Metis Partners was appointed to sell brand assets, including the Derrys, Joplings, Lewis's and Owen Owen names and related domain names.[20]


At its peak there were twenty Vergo stores operating in five divisions, as listed in the following table.

Store Name Type
Derrys of Plymouth Department Store
Joplings of Sunderland Department Store
Lewis's of Liverpool Department Store
Robbs of Hexham Department Store
Colchester Department Store
Great Yarmouth Department Store
Ipswich Department Store
Norwich Department Store
Clacton-on-Sea Vergo Fashion Home & More!
Dovercourt Vergo Fashion Home & More!
Felixstowe Vergo Fashion Home & More!
Stowmarket Vergo Fashion Home & More!
Witham Vergo Fashion Home & More!
Cothill (Plymouth) Homemaker
Exmouth Homemaker
Kingsteignton Homemaker
Launceston Homemaker
Clacton-on-Sea Vergo at Home
Stanway (Colchester) Vergo at Home
Colchester The Jewellery Store


  1. ^ a b c "Business Lite Memo Vergo Retail Ltd (In Administration)" (PDF). MCR. 10 May 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "MCR appointed administrators to Vergo Retail". Accountancy Age. 7 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "Vergo Retail develops online presence". Graham Soult. 16 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "Non-food (announcement of talks with Vergo)". Plymouth & South West Co-operative Society. 2009. 
  5. ^ Helen Compson (13 March 2009). "Doubts are cast over £40m Robb’s revamp:". Hexham Courant. 
  6. ^ "Jobs saved as iconic store sold". BBC News Online. 22 May 2007. 
  7. ^ "Co-op Department Stores deal with Vergo confirmed". East of England Co-operative Society. 11 July 2009. 
  8. ^ "Iconic City Store Set to Close!". Vergo Retail Ltd. 22 February 2010. 
  9. ^ "MCR appointed administrators for Vergo Retail Limited". MCR. 11 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Helen Compson (21 May 2010). "National chain eyes up Robb's:". Hexham Courant. 
  11. ^ "Hilco appointed as retail advisors to Vergo Retail". Hilco UK Limited. 23 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "Vergo announces closing down sales at all 19 stores". East Anglian Daily Times. 26 May 2010. 
  13. ^ Rachael Singh (27 May 2010). "Vergo Retail administrators hold sale to fund business". Accountancy Age. 
  14. ^ Eleanor Radford (28 May 2010). "Plymouth tycoon Chris Dawson shows interest in troubled Derrys store". South West Business. 
  15. ^ Helen Compson (28 May 2010). "Store group pursues takeover bid for Robb's". Hexham Courant. 
  16. ^ Amy Shields (4 June 2010). "Beales acquires Robbs of Hexham". Retail Week. 
  17. ^ "Clock ticking for remaining Vergo stores". DIY Week. 28 June 2010. 
  18. ^ "Co-op gives payout to laid-off Vergo staff". Essex County Standard. 15 July 2010. 
  19. ^ "Derrys staff offered 'substantial' payouts". this is Plymouth/The Herald. 16 July 2010. 
  20. ^ "Derrys 'the brand' put up for sale by auction". This is Devon. 3 February 2011. 

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