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Jobs at risk in Canterbury, Maidstone and Westwood Cross as DW Sports falls into administration

A number of jobs across the county are at risk after a sports store fell into administration.

DW Sports - which has branches in Canterbury, Broadstairs and Maidstone - is expected to appoint insolvency specialists today following an income slump during lockdown.

A DW Sports store. Picture: PA News
A DW Sports store. Picture: PA News

Founded by former Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan, the chain had announced plans to shut 25 shops last month - but now it says it will wind down its retailers for good.

However, bosses stress that they hope to keep as many of the firm's gyms running as possible.

Chief executive Martin Long said: “As a consequence of Covid-19, we found ourselves in a position where we were mandated by government to close down both our retail store portfolio and our gym chain in its entirety for a protracted period, leaving us with a high fixed-cost base and zero income.

“Like many other retail businesses, the consequences of this extremely challenging operating market have created inevitable profitability issues for DW Sports.

“The decision to appoint administrators has not been taken lightly but will give us the best chance to protect viable parts of the business, return them to profitability, and secure as many jobs as possible."

The DW Sports store off the Sturry Road in Canterbury is set to close. Picture: Google
The DW Sports store off the Sturry Road in Canterbury is set to close. Picture: Google

DW's website has ceased trading and closing-down sales have started at its 50 remaining stores.

The chain runs a retailer next door to one of its gyms at Thanet shopping centre Westwood Cross.

It also has branches in Vauxhall Road, Canterbury, and Fremlin Walk in Maidstone.

The firm says that Fitness First and its 43 gyms, which are part of the same group, will not be impacted by the closures.

“It is a difficult model for any business to manage through without long-term damage, and with the limited support which we have been able to gain," Mr Long continued.

“Having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly believe that this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve many of our gyms for our members, and also protect the maximum number of jobs possible for our team members.”

At present, 59 of DW's gyms have reopened in England and Northern Ireland, with a further 14 sites in England, Scotland and Wales unable to open due to government restrictions.

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