Kinky Knickers manufacturer falls into administration

Headen and Quarmby, the 79-year-old British underwear manufacturer backed by retail expert Mary Portas, has gone into administration with the loss of 33 jobs.

The company, which won Portas’ backing after featuring in the 2012 TV series Mary’s Bottom Line, was behind the launch of the Scot’s Kinky Knickers lingerie range.

Portas had reopened the sewing room at the company’s Middleton, Greater Manchester factory for the programme aimed at demonstrating the potential to revive British manufacturing.

The brand, which secured contacts with some of the high street’s leading retailers, accounted for 25% of Headen & Quarmby’s sales, with the remainder in the manufacturing of nightwear and lingerie.

In a statement, Portas expressed her surprise at the firm going into administration, believing the business to be in “confident form” before administrators BDO were appointed this week.

“Right up until this announcement, H&Q were telling me of their ambitious plans for our brand and the others they manufacture under licence as well as plans they had for their own ranges,” she said.

“It’s especially sad as they were even opening an Academy later this month to help share the skills and learning.”

BDO cited “a small number of bad debts” amassed over the Christmas period as a factor in the administration, an issue compounded by a lack of future orders.

It added it is open to approaches from commercial parties interested in acquiring the business or assets.