Paperchase’s final goodbye

Customers grab bargains before all 100 stores shut doors for good

 

Thank you and goodbye – Paperchase finally closed all its stores yesterday with customers grabbing last-minute bargains as they took advantage of up to 80% discounts to empty shelves.

Following the online store ceasing trading on 17 February, all 100+ bricks and mortar stores, both standalone shops and concessions, were shut as of 5pm last night, 3 April – some had already closed but the majority were still open over the weekend.

Above: The website confirms the Paperchase journey is over
Above: The website confirms the Paperchase journey is over

In final emails to customers, the retailer advertised the last 70% and 80% discounts, as the stores featured handwritten notices selling cards for 10p and other stock at just 50p, and the website now confirms the business is completely shut with a note saying: “It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that we have now ceased trading. We want to take a moment to thank you for your support and loyalty over the years.”

Above: PG’s Jakki Brown (top left) surveys empty shelves at Paperchase’s Victoria Station store yesterday
Above: PG’s Jakki Brown (top left) surveys empty shelves at Paperchase’s Victoria Station store yesterday

The business, which spent many years as a darling of the High Street since its founding in 1968, couldn’t survive its third administration in just over three years, having undergone a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in 2019 to pay creditors over a fixed period, followed by a controversial pre-pack in January 2021 that left many publishers saddled with debts and understandably aggrieved that new owners Aspen Phoenix Newco – affiliated to previous owners Primera Credit – carried on selling through their unpaid-for stock.

It was put up for sale on 11 January, just four months after current owner Steve Curtis took over with Aspen Phoenix Newco running the operation but, only six days later, it was revealed the retailer had put professional services firm Begbies Traynor on standby to handle a potential insolvency and Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, stepped in to take the IP and brand within its offer and boost its non-food proposition – but not including any of the stores or around 1,000 staff.

Above: The final emails to customers revealed big discounts to clear stock
Above: The final emails to customers revealed big discounts to clear stock

The pre-pack administration deal, concluded on 31 January, ended speculation about the stationery and greetings business that was among the retailers particularly hard hit when the pandemic lockdowns emptied High Streets across the country.

Jan Marchant, md of home and clothing at Tesco, said of the deal: “Paperchase is a well-loved brand by so many, and we’re proud to bring it to Tesco stores across the UK. We have been building our plans to bring more brands and inspiration to the ranges we currently offer, and this will help us to take those plans further.”

Above: Postmark’s Mark and Leona Janson-Smith plan to reopen the Battersea outlet on Friday

Above: Postmark’s Mark and Leona Janson-Smith plan to reopen the Battersea outlet on Friday

However, Paperchase’s woes have led to opportunities for smaller chains to step up as Postmark has won the tender to take on the five outlets in Network Rail sites – in London’s Victoria Station, London Bridge, Waterloo, and Kings Cross plus Birmingham New Street – as well as the Paperchase unit in Battersea Power Station and two other stores.

By the end of the summer, these new store additions will take Postmark, headed up by Mark and Leona Janson-Smith, to 15 outlets, more than doubling its current seven-strong estate. Also, the Birmingham New Street store will expand the Postmark brand outside of its London heartland.

“It’s an extremely exciting time for Postmark,” commented md Mark, “we’re delighted to be able to grasp this huge opportunity to grow our brand and offer even more members of the public our curated mix of quality greeting cards and stationery.”

Above: Victoria Station and Waterloo outlets on the last day – they should be converted to Postmark by the end of April
Above: Victoria Station and Waterloo outlets on the last day – they should be converted to Postmark by the end of April

These additional Postmark stores will be jointly owned by the Janson-Smiths and Cardzone, part of the joint venture agreement forged with the two retail businesses in April 2021 for future stores.

The Postmark-branded outlet is planned to open in Battersea Power Station this Friday, 7 April, and the aim is for the majority of the station units to have been converted to the new storefront by the end of the month.

Top: Queues of customers on Paperchase’s final trading day

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