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Popular Brands that have Disappeared from the High Street

The high street has been facing some major challenges in recent months, not only as a result of the growing popularity of online shopping, but also because of the general economic climate.

The government's continued failure to negotiate an appropriate Brexit deal is creating an uncertain future, leading to plenty of negative press and a sustained tightening of the purse strings.

Some shops are cutting the number of high street branches in an effort to stay in business and some are retaining only an online presence but sadly, others have fallen by the wayside in recent years and have disappeared altogether due to the challenging trading climate.

Read on to find out about the popular brands that have disappeared from the high street...

High Street Shopping

 © IRStone/Adobe Stock



Not too long ago, Blockbuster was the most popular video, DVD and electronic game rental shop on the market, with high street branches in every town. However, the advent of Netflix and online competition spelt the beginning of the end for Blockbuster.

Netflix had advantages over Blockbuster, as it could offer cheaper costs and a greater variety by being an online brand. Blockbuster went into administration in 2010 and was acquired by Dish Network Corp in 2011, who kept some high street stores open, but in 2013 it was announced the remaining retail outlets were closing, signalling the end for the brand.



Electrical retail chain Comet was founded in 1933 and became the second largest electrical retailer in the UK in the 21st century, with 6,000 staff employed in more than 200 stores. However, it collapsed in 2012 and all of its high street stores had closed by December of that year.

The company had been bought by Kesa in July 2003 but suffered losses, so Kesa sold Comet to a private equity firm, OpCapita, in November 2011, for the token sum of £2. However, OpCapita failed to save the business and all the high street stores were sold, with their stock liquidated, by December 2012.

The global economic crisis was blamed for the brand's demise, with higher taxes, the increased cost of living and salary freezes combining to deter consumers from making non-essential purchases.


JJB Sports

Sports retailer JJB Sports was a major name in sports and leisure wear two decades ago, with 120 high street stores in 1994. However, after releasing less than impressive interim results in October 2008, JJB's share value dropped significantly. In 2011, the recession was blamed for JJB's financial struggles and a major restructuring plan was put in place, but it failed to turn around the brand's fortunes.

JJB was bought out by Sports Direct in 2012 after shares in JJB were suspended and it went into administration. Sports Direct saved 20 stores and more than 500 jobs, but 120 stores closed, with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs. In April 2013, however, Sports Direct returned the majority of the JJB stores to the administrators, signalling the end of the high street presence.



The DIY chain, Focus, was the fourth biggest DIY retailer in the UK in the early 21st century. It had 178 UK stores, with 3,000 employees. However, with stiff competition such as Homebase, B&Q and Wickes, Focus began suffering losses in 2007 - a pattern that continued for the next four years, leading to its eventual closure in 2011, after a year when the losses had totalled £25 million.

A total of 55 stores were sold to its rivals, Wickes, B&Q and B&M Bargains, but the remaining 123 high street stores were closed. The final stores were closed on 22nd July 2011. Its demise was blamed on an acquisition spree prior to 2007, leaving Focus struggling under the debts that had accumulated.



The closure of Woolworths in 2008 (arguably the biggest loss to the British high street) was blamed on the credit crunch. Affectionately known as Woolies, the brand vanished from high streets when it went into administration in November 2008.

A staggering 27,000 jobs were lost when the business closed all of its stores between December 2008 and January 2009. Woolworths relaunched online on 25th June 2009, but its online operation closed in June 2015. Rumours have been circulating since April 2017 that the Woolworths brand may be resurrected after former director Tony Page confirmed an interest in acquiring the name.



The electrical chain Maplin closed down after entering administration in February 2018. After the announcement, the high street shops continued trading, while the administrators tried to find a buyer to prevent closure. However, no buyer had been found by the end of March, leading to redundancies at the store's offices in London and Rotherham.

At the end of June, it was announced that Maplins had officially closed, with all 200 of its high street branches going under and the loss of 2,300 jobs. The Brexit vote to leave the EU was blamed for its demise. It was reported that the business had been hit by a slump in the pound after the vote, due to weak consumer confidence. It had been trading since 1972.


Toys R Us

The massive toy chain officially ceased trading on 24th April 2018 (exactly 70 years after its launch), when its last high street stores closed down. Its website had already ceased trading on 28th February 2018, when the administrators were called in. All of the staff had been made redundant by the time the final store closed down.

The company's American operations had already filed for bankruptcy in September 2017. It was reported that the company had long-term debts of $5 billion. However, on 3rd October 2018, it was reported that talks were underway with a view to reviving Toys R Us.

The lenders who took control following the brand's collapse earlier this year are reportedly planning on rearranging the assets and building a fresh retail operation. It will be a challenging task, since all of the brand's high street stores have been sold off and their major suppliers, such as Hasbro and Mattel, have found alternative distributors.

It seems to be a case of "whose turn is it next" as City analysts keep a close eye on the high street, with no end in sight to the current UK economic uncertainty.

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Make sure your retail premises are fitted with the best possible display equipment. Available for nationwide delivery, KAS Shopfittings supplies counters, slatwall, shelving, card racks and other shop display equipment for every style of premises. Contact us on 01793 754230 for further information.

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