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Kent jobs saved with sale of Dreams bed stores

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by business editor Trevor Sturgess

Most staff working for Dreams, the struggling bed business that collapsed into administration yesterday, can sleep a little easier after the sale of 171 stores, including nine in Kent.

The sale saved 1,600 jobs nationwide - and dozens in Kent and Medway - but left more than 300 wondering if the remaining 95 stores, including Folkestone, remaining in administration would be sold.

Administrators at Ernst & Young sold the bulk of the business, including its head office and two UK factories, to a new company controlled by Sun Capital Partners, for an undisclosed sum.

As a result the business has secured new investment and will continue to operate as a going concern. The new owner has pledged to honour customer orders where part payment deposits have been made for goods and customer warranties.

Nine Kent stores are trading normally - Gillingham, Gravesend, Maidstone, Sittingbourne, Dartford, Ashford, Canterbury, Broadstairs and Tunbridge Wells.

Dreams is one of the UK's leading specialist retailer of beds and associated products. with 266 stores across the UK, employing approximately 2,000 employees.

Alan Hudson, joint administrator, said: "High street retailers have faced unprecedented conditions over recent years, and the market for higher value discretionary purchases has been particularly tough.

"Dreams is a well known market leader, but in common with many others has suffered as a result of this depressed retail environment, a rapid expansion of its store portfolio and onerous lease liabilities.

"Whilst recent performance has improved, it has seen a decline in like for like sales across its store portfolio as well as its operating margins being squeezed. This has resulted in the business being unable to continue to operate outside of administration."

He added: "The business will continue to trade without interruption, over 1,600 jobs have been transferred and the future of Dreams on the UK high street has been safeguarded.

"The remaining stores that are not included in the sale will remain open for business whilst the administrators seek to find buyers for these stores."

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