Troubled discounter Ugo sold to ‘established national name’

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Ugo Stores has been sold by owner Arthur Harris, The Grocer can reveal. The 20-store discount chain, which opened its first store in last February, was sold to “a well-known and established brand name”, Harris said.

Serious doubts were raised this week over the chain’s future after it emerged that its major supplier, Nisa, had stopped delivering to the chain more than a week ago.

Users of www.larkhall.biz/haldanes, a website forum set up following the demise of Ugo’s sister company Haldanes Stores, claimed the chain’s 20 stores were running seriously low on stock. One user posted a number of images of an Ugo store “in the north” with empty shelves and signs had been put up in stores saying “25% off everything”.

Harris revealed he had been in discussions with a “national retailer” between September and January that had “expressed an interest in acquiring a major shareholding and substantially investing into the business”. However, the deal fell through last month.

“This left Ugo in a very difficult trading position,” Harris said. “Since then it has been mine and my management team’s sole mission to ensure the jobs of the store workers were secured.”

He added: “Subject to legals being completed, all the stores traded by Ugo will transfer into new ownership of a new operator. This operator is a well-known and established brand name. All store staff will transfer under TUPE to the employment of that operator.”

Harris warned there would be redundancies at head office because “the new operator does not need any new infrastructure”, but said he hoped to transfer staff to his other businesses.

“I believe there is very strong evidence to show that the sector has worsened dramatically since we embarked on the Ugo journey a year or so ago,” he said. “It was always going to be a challenge but one I feel we would have achieved in normal trading conditions.”

Ugo launched in a blaze of publicity last January after Harris snapped up 20 Netto stores from Asda. The first store opened in February last year and the remainder were opened by May. However, two Ugo stores were forced to close when Haldanes Stores collapsed into administration in June last year with debts of £8.6m.

Readers' comments (9)

  • It was a very brave step for Mr Harris to launch into a highly competitive business at the very worst time in recent histroy. We have to resign ourselves to the fact that we only have a choice of just 4 major grocers in which to do our shopping.
    There will always be a niche for premium ie Waitrose and M&S and there will always be a niche for discounters. But that is all it will ever be a niche.

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  • Anonymous

    Im afraid this looks very much like another "get rich quick" scheme by Mr Harriss - ask his creditors and staff from Haldanes - business needs more regulation to guard hard working people from this type of operation setting up again !

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  • Hi there my husband does the security there will they ber keeping them as really worried he not been told anything he works for axies

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  • Anonymous

    I passed the Ashington Ugo store last night after closing time and there was more stock going out into vans parked outside!!!

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  • It's Haldanes all over again by the look of things.

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  • Anonymous

    It's been sold to Poundstretcher.

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  • Anonymous

    what is going to happen the ugo Stores now

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  • Ugo Anlaby road hull, which well know established store have you sold to im sure we would all love to know ... including the staff, lets hope it secures the staff who have put on a brave face through it all.

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  • Anonymous

    THIS MR ARTHUR HARRIS, THE SAME MR HARRIS THAT BOUGHT TINDALE AND STANTON/ HOBSON FOODS OUT OF ADMINISTRATION 8 MONTHS AGO ARE ONCE AGAIN IN ADMINISTRATION AS OF 12/06/12

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