Warren Evans jobs at risk as bedmaker calls in administrators

Staff at the ethical bedmaker Warren Evans will be hoping to learn more about their fate this week as administrators continue to seek a buyer for the London-based firm.

The company, which employs 287 staff and has 14 showrooms across the capital and the south-east, appointed administrators Duff & Phelps late last week, despite claiming strong pre-Christmas sales.

The bedmaker, which has a manufacturing site in east London and uses timber from sustainable forests, had been seeking new investment since November last year.

If administrators fail to find a last-minute buyer, the business looks set to close.

“Warren Evans is rightly recognised as one of the UK’s leading bed, mattress and furniture retailers, but trading conditions are exceptionally challenging, with the business hit by rising manufacturing costs and the continued squeeze on consumer wallets and confidence,” said joint administrator Allan Graham.

“Over the past year the business has been growing its market share with major investments in new product development. However, the search for a new investment partner has proved to be ultimately unsuccessful, and so the business and management were left with no option but to go into administration.”

Founded in 1978, the company was started by Warren Evans with a couple of hundred pounds borrowed from his sister. He opened his first showroom in 1985 and expanded steadily, carving out a reputation as a green furniture maker. It was repeatedly named as the Observer ethical retailer of the year, and a Sunday Times best green company.

The company also pioneered the offer to replace a mattress up to 120 days after delivery if the customer was not happy. Customers with post-purchase problems were being told by staff over the weekend to email the company but to expect a delayed response.

Warren Evans is the latest in a line of furniture retailers to struggle. Last year, DFS bought rivals Sofology and Dwell, as well as eight stores from Multiyork, which filed for administration in November. Since the start of 2018, as many as 10,000 jobs have been put under threat in the UK retail industry.