It’s no secret in the retail world that shops are struggling to cope with the drastic change in circumstances as a result of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. While some brands, such as Next and Primark, are planning for monster comeback sales in bids to make up for millions of pounds worth of lost sales, other chains have not been quite so lucky. Two such brands are Warehouse and Oasis.
A brief history
Warehouse was the first to open of the two, with its first shop opening on London’s Duke Street in 1976 under the original name Warehouse Utility Clothing Company. It rebranded to the simpler name Warehouse in 1979 and has remained so since then.
Oasis opened its first shop doors to the public a little over two decades ago, in 1995. Since then it has been a staple on the UK high street for many towns and cities around the country, offering a steady and affordable alternative to many of the pricier storefronts.
In 2001, the two companies became managed by the same umbrella company, with Sierra Acquisitions Ltd aiding in Oasis’s management team purchasing Warehouse. Since then the two companies, as well as other subsidiaries such as Coast and Principles, have undergone multiple management changes, with many of them either selling on or going bust.
This resulted in today’s situation, wherein Coast went into administration last year (its online trade remains, under fashion house Boohoo) and the remaining Warehouse and Oasis are owned by Aurora Fashions. Things looked up for a brief time until House of Fraser – another heavyweight Aurora Fashions title – also went into administration.
The final blow
Despite a short peak in sales in March 2019, Warehouse and Oasis had been suffering decline for a while. COVID-19 ultimately put the final nail in the coffin for the chains, with no brick and mortar shops open and e-commerce sales suffering a surprising decline as people favour necessities over luxuries.
What does this mean going forward?
After failing to find a buyer for the two brands, Warehouse and Oasis have no choice but to permanently close shops around the country. This means that 1,800 workers currently furloughed under the government’s retention scheme during COVID-19 will instead be laid off; there is currently no news on when this will happen. 200 staff members have already been made redundant following administration talks earlier this month, and it is expected that the roughly 40 members that remain at the head offices will also face redundancy.