Cookware and kitchen retailer ProCook has announced the purchase of Steamer Trading after the independent specialist kitchenware chain appointed administrators yesterday. The deal saves 27 of the retailer’s 38 stores and includes the e-commerce business and head office team.
Steamer Trading, which was established in 1985 by Liz and David Phillips, appointed Steve Absolom and Will Wright of KPMG LLP as joint administrators on January 9. KPMG revealed that, following their appointment, administrators completed an agreement to sell 27 of Steamer Trading’s 38 stores ‘and the majority of the business and assets’ to ProCook.
Whilst the move saves the majority of the Steamer Trading estate, 10 “underperforming” outlets are set to close with immediate effect, resulting in 79 job losses.
The family business, which was taken over by Liz and David’s son Ben Phillips in 2001, was originally founded on the site of the former ‘Steamer Inn’ in Alfriston, Sussex - hence the name Steamer Trading.
ProCook owner Daniel O’Neill said of the acquisition: “We are delighted to announce this news and see it as a fantastic opportunity for Steamer Trading and ProCook to grow both brands. Our focus will continue to be on providing excellent value for money, great service and innovative high-quality homewares.”
He added, “We are very excited about the future, though because of high rent and rates and the current retail climate we had to make the decision not to take on all the stores. However, we will endeavour to fill all vacancies across our stores by transferring people from closing stores.”
ProCook, which is headquartered in Gloucestershire, operates 37 UK stores and a fast-growing e-commerce business. The retailer also designs and manufactures around 1,500 exclusive products that span cookware, kitchen accessories and tableware categories and boasts a strong international presence within eight European markets.
Clare Burgess, who previously was the trading director of Steamer Trading, will now head up the Steamer Trading Cookshop brand, said: “While I am sad to say goodbye to some colleagues, I’m excited about the future for Steamer Trading. The new Steamer trading stores will be offering an exciting shopping experience with a great mix of exclusive products alongside iconic kitchen and homeware brands.”
KPMG added: ‘A further store – trading under the Divertimenti brand in Knightsbridge – has been acquired by Divertimenti Limited. Both deals see 332 jobs being secured.”
Steamer Trading acquired Divertimenti in 2016, taking on the flagship store in London's Knightsbridge, the Divertimenti Cookery School (which is housed in the two-storey London store), the brand’s online business and its distribution hub in Worcester. Steamer Trading managing director Ben Phillips now owns the London store, having bought it from administrators.
KPMG UK director Nick Holloway, who led the sale, commented: “We are delighted that we have been able to rescue such a long-established business including a high proportion of stores and preserve a large number of jobs, especially given the current economic pressures faced by retailers across the UK. The trade sale complements the existing ProCook business and further increases their high street presence.”
KPMG UK restructuring partner and joint administrator Steve Absolom added: “Whilst it is always pleasing to preserve a significant number of jobs, sadly a number of redundancies are to be made at the 10 closed stores. Over the coming days, our priority is to ensure all employees who have been affected by redundancy receive the information and guidance they need in order to claim monies owed from the Redundancy Payments Office.”
Industry charity, the Rainy Day Trust is calling for any Steamer Trading staff who have been affected by the closures, and need advice or support, to get in touch on 0203 192 0486 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Application forms for assistance from the charity can also be downloaded from www.rainydaytrust.org.uk/get-help/apply-for-help/