By Kristy Dorsey

Fast fashion retailer Quiz is set to close a further fifth of its bricks-and-mortar stores for good after sales during the five months to the end of August crashed by 77 per cent amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Following a pre-pack administration in June that resulted in the closure of 11 stores and more than 90 job losses, AIM-listed Quiz said yesterday that it intends to close around 15 more outlets. It has confirmed the sites of 11 of the new store closures, one of which is in Scotland.

A spokesman for the company said Quiz averages about six employees per shop, implying a further 90 job losses if the full lot of 15 closures takes place.

The Glasgow-headquartered group said it operated 75 stand-alone stores in the UK prior to the June restructuring. As of September 9, 48 of these had emerged from lockdown to resume trading.

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Amid ongoing discussions with its landlords to re-negotiate its rental agreements, Quiz “anticipates re-opening a total of approximately 60 stores in the United Kingdom”.

“Rental terms for the re-opened stores are consistent with those targeted by the group,” Quiz said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

“They provide a flexible cost base going forward with rents payable predominantly based upon revenues generated rather than previous higher fixed rental arrangements. The average lease length on these stores is 24 months.”

With its stores and concessions closed from late March and online operations suspended for two weeks in April, sales between April 1 and August 31 shrank to £13 million, down from £55.2m in the same period a year earlier. Online accounted for £8m of revenues, with £2.9m generated by UK stores and concessions, and £2.1m from international operations.

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Further to the June restructuring, the group closed all seven of its stores in the Republic of Ireland and its three stores in Spain. Four of the Irish stores have now re-opened, with negotiations continuing in relation to two others.

The group said it does not intend to resume operations in Spain.

Although “several” stand-alone Quiz stores resumed trading in July, the majority of the 48 that have now re-opened only did so “in recent weeks”. Meanwhile, the number of concessions it operates within the premises of other UK-based retailers has fallen to 141 from 164 pre-lockdown.

“Whilst sales generated in UK stand alone stores and concessions remain below levels generated in the previous year, the group is encouraged by the consistent improvement in like-for-like sales in recent weeks,” Quiz said.

The spokesman said the “vast majority” Quiz’s UK concessions operate out of Debenhams, with the remainder accounted for by independent retailers.

READ MORE: Scottish fashion chain closes 11 stores with the loss of 93 jobs

Following Debenhams’ decision to close its operations in the Republic of Ireland, the number of Quiz concessions operated there has fallen from 23 to 11. In the UK, Debenhams is in the process of cutting 2,500 jobs as it fights to recover from its collapse into administration earlier this year.

In the US, Quiz’s primary wholesale partner has gone into bankruptcy, and “its future remains uncertain”. Quiz said it is “actively pursuing” new opportunities in that market.

Quiz is headed by chief executive Tarak Ramzan, who set up the business in 1993. The company debuted on London’s Alternative Investment Market in 2017 in a flotation that yielded more than £90m for Mr Ramzan and other family shareholders.

Shares in Quiz closed more than 6% lower yesterday at 7p each. The company has £6.1m of available cash and £3.5m of bank facilities scheduled to expire on October 31, the latter of which Quiz has said it intends to renew. It is scheduled to announce its financial results for the year to the end of March on October 27.

The 11 latest stores confirmed for closure are: Antrim, Ashton, Ballymena, Bradford, Chester, Cork, Ipswich, Kirkcaldy, Oxford, Taunton and Yeovil.