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Home Kent News Article
by business editor Trevor Sturgess
More than 2,000 jobs - including dozens in Kent - have been saved after the sale of 116 stores of struggling fashion retailer Republic.
The stores in Canterbury (Whitefriars), Maidstone (Fremlin Walk), Tunbridge Wells (Royal Victoria Place) and Bluewater, are among the outlets sold by administrators Ernst & Young to Sportdirect.com Retail for an undisclosed sum.
The deal - which includes the brand, stores and head office in Leeds - has saved 2,100 jobs nationwide.
Until it collapsed into administration, Republic employed 2,500 people, but 150 jobs were axed in Leeds.
Republic specialises in young designer fashion, but has been hit by the spending downturn, especially in the youth fashion market, as well as fierce competition from Primark and online retailers.
Republic was owned by private equity group TPG and has been particularly strong in the north where recession has hit harder than elsewhere.
Hunter Kelly, joint administrator, said it was a challenging time and volatile climate for retailers which made the sale particularly pleasing.
"The brand Republic is well recognised and well respected by customers for offering quality, high fashion goods and it is a testament to its strength that Sports Direct has made this investment to secure its future and high street presence," she said.
The business began as a men's denim retailer in 1986 under the Best Jeans brand in Leeds. It currently offers casual fashion, under multiple brands to young adults, including Jack Jones and SoulCal.
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