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Hawkin's Bazaar toy chain collapses into administration

Zoe Wood
Photograph: TM O Buildings/Alamy

Toy chain Hawkin’s Bazaar has become the latest retailer to collapse into administration, putting nearly 200 high street jobs at risk.

The Norwich-based chain has suspended its website but its 20 stores, which are already running clearance sales, remain open. Gift cards will only be accepted for a limited time after administrators were appointed.

Tom Straw, a partner at administrators Moorfields Advisory, said it had been a challenging Christmas for the toy trade. The small business, which employs 177 people, has struggled to compete with Amazon and others.

Straw said: “Hawkin’s Bazaar is a retail brand with a strong heritage both on the high street and online. Unfortunately, despite making changes to appeal to the shift in modern buying patterns, the retailer still struggled to compete with online retailers such as Amazon.”

Earlier this month, Argos said the absence of a must-have game or gadget had contributed to a slump in toy and video games sales at Christmas. A disappointing festive period capped a difficult year for the toy trade, with UK sales down 6% in 2019. This came on top of a similar decline in 2018, according to analysts NPD. A total of 337m toys with a value of £3.2bn were sold in the UK during 2019, it said.

It is not the first time Hawkin’s Bazaar has had financial problems. It also went into administration in 2011, a situation that resulted in the closure of two-thirds of store network. In 2016 the retailer was acquired by Merino Private Equity but it was put up for sale again last summer. The most recent accounts show a near-£1m loss on sales of £15.3m in 2018.

Hawkin’s Bazaar’s challenging Christmas period reflected the struggling high street retail sector generally. Although the company is in administration, its stores will continue trading until further notice and much of the stock will be subject to clearance discounts and other special promotions.