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Tesco buys Paperchase brand in pre-pack deal

While the rumours have been rife for the last week or so about Paperchase’s likely demise, even the most left-field of thinkers had not contemplated that Tesco would swoop in to acquire the brand and related IP in a pre-pack administration deal, but that is precisely what has happened.

The deal – which was concluded on 31 January – does not include Paperchase’s 100+ stores, which are all expected to be closed in the coming weeks, with the brand living on within Tesco’s offer.

“Paperchase is a well-loved brand by so many, and we’re proud to bring it to Tesco stores across the UK,” commented Jan Marchant, managing director of Home and Clothing at Tesco. “We have been building out plans to bring more brands and inspiration to the ranges we currently offer, and this will help us to take those plans further.”

After a great many years as a darling of the high street, Paperchase’s recent history is somewhat chequered, having undergone a controversial pre-pack in January 2021, leaving many publishers saddled with debts, understandably aggrieved that the new owners, Aspen Phoenix Newco (affiliated to the previous owners Primera Credit) carried on selling their unpaid for stock. The chain was sold to Steve Curtis, backed by industry advisory firm Retail Realisation last August, only to be put up for sale four months later in January, appointing PriceWaterhouseCoopers to find a buyer, with corporate restructuring company Begbies Traynor then brought in to handle the administration when no viable offers to buy the retailer as a going concern came to the table.

“This is incredibly disappointing news, not just for the publishers, including us, who are left saddled with debt, but for the industry as a whole from what was once a leading retailer,” commented, Sarah Jackson, founder of Stormy Knight, who has been supplying Paperchase through the last two regimes. “I guess we all knew there was risk working with them after the last administration, but we all hoped that it was a way of us clawing back the monies owed. It is a shame Olly Tress didn’t buy Paperchase and open up some Oliver Bonas paper stationery boutiques. Like so many others, I will be watching with interest as to how Tesco will be using the Paperchase brand going forward.”

Adding her condolences to publishers who have been left out of pocket by Paperchase’s second demise in as many years, Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA told sister site PG Buzz: “I am saddened by the news about Paperchase, as it has been such a prominent brand on the high street for many years, and especially at a time when greeting cards are continuing to thrive. I do however feel for our publisher members and other suppliers who have been affected by this.”

Another publisher, who asked to remain anonymous did not mince their words as to how they feel: “The whole Paperchase scenario of the last few years disgusts me. It is not about capitalism or the market economy, it is about cronyism and business immorality. Under previous regimes, when it was being run by Timothy Melgund, Paperchase was a beacon of light on our high streets run with total integrity and passion. It is indeed a sad day for the industry that it has come to this.”

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