Northern Ireland

Hanna and Browne go into administration

A notice of administration has been placed on the shutters at Hanna and Browne
Image caption A notice of administration has been placed on the shutters at Hanna and Browne in Newtownards

A well-known home furnishings chain in Northern Ireland has been placed into administration after more than 110 years in business.

Hanna and Browne has closed its branches in Newtownards, Limavady, Lisburn and Bangor, placing a question mark over the future of 100 jobs.

The administrator said no-one had been made redundant

A decision will be made within days on whether to re-open the stores in an attempt to salvage the business.

The administrator, James Neill, said he had been appointed following a "general downturn in trading conditions, coupled with a significant change in consumer spending patterns" which, he said, had led to cash flow problems.

"The administrator and his staff are currently undertaking an immediate assessment of the trading and financial position of the partnership with a view to maintaining the going concern of the business," he said.

"Once this is complete we will have a clearer picture of future options."

Image caption William Gilliland said it was a difficult time for High Street stores

The administrator said the immediate priority was to communicate with key stakeholders of the business including employees, customers, suppliers and landlords.

Hanna and Browne started as cabinet makers in Belfast more than a century ago, before shops opened specialising in giftware and electrical appliances.

It is now part of the family-owned Lisnasure Interiors group of companies.

William Gilliland of Newtownards' Chamber of Trade said he was shocked by the closure.

"It's been in the town for as long as I can remember and has really been a part of the furniture of Newtownards. I'm very sad to see the closure of it.

"We've had many reports over this past number of years about the various green shoots of recovery but I think if you talk to most retailers out on the High Street it's still a very, very difficult and very challenging business background at the moment."

There have been several High Street casualties of the recession, with well-known brands like HMV, Jessops and JJB Sports entering administration.