Administrators begin 'closing down' sales at Borders UK

<p>Borders UK launched a closing down sale this weekend, with all 45 branded Borders and Books Etc stores across the UK affected. The news will fuel concern among both publishers and rivals that the chain could be set to launch a fire-sale of stock.<br /><br />It also came as a shock to staff who had not been told before the news emerged late on Friday (27th). According to one insider, stores were delivered the new POS on Saturday morning, which included huge &#39;Store closing!&#39; banners, and discount POS up to 90%. Stores are currently selling stock with between 20% and 50% discounts. There is also reported friction over the chain&#39;s Electronic Gift Cards, with the administrator currently accepting the cards, but only if customers spend more than the value of the card. One member of staff told<em> The Bookseller</em> that they didn&#39;t know for how long the cards would be accepted in stores. </p><p>Publishers told <em>The Bookseller </em>on Friday that they had minimised exposure to Borders over the past few months. The PA said today that it was &quot;continuing engagement with the administrator over stock and other things&quot;, and publishers were still willing to look into ways of helping the business continue to trade. Chief executive Simon Juden said: &quot;We still remain hopeful they will find a buyer for some or all of the stores. we are keen to see the continuance of the trade, and so we are open minded to any appropriate discussions about how to ensure that happens.&quot; </p><p>The news of the closing down sale was announced by the joint administrators of Borders UK -&nbsp; Philip Duffy, Geoff Bouchier and David Whitehouse of MCR. Duffy commented: &quot;MCR is now conducting a parallel strategy. We are conducting closing down sales while we continue to seek a purchaser for all or some of the company&#39;s stores.&quot;<br /><br />He continued: &quot;As we have already stated, all outstanding employee wages have been paid up to date and ongoing wages for retained staff will continue to be paid as an expense of the administration. However at this stage it is far too early to comment on any potential redundancies and all employees are being kept abreast of developments.&quot;<br /><br />MCR told the BBC that there was a window of three to four weeks in which to sell the business. It also revealed that it had hired specialist liquidators Hilco to advise. Hilco&#39;s subsidiary Valco was behind the management buy-out of Borders in July. The <em>Times</em> reported that Hilco wants to recoup about &pound;6m it lent to the management in July, and is the company&rsquo;s most senior secure creditor.<br /><br />MCR told the BBC it was aware that a closing down sale was only permitted if the business was genuinely winding up.</p>