Mass store closure as Scope battles deficits

Scope is closing 50 "serial loss-making" shops as part of its drive to overcome its predicted £10.1m deficit.

In October, the charity hired Gordon Bullock, former chief operating officer at discount retailer TK Maxx, to improve the performance of its 300 stores nationwide (Third Sector, 26 October 2005).

But the decision to close the 50 shops was not taken by Bullock - the outlets in question had been known loss-makers for the past three years and plans to close them were already in the pipeline.

However, a spokesman said Scope was continuing to invest in new stores and in the past six months had opened five in areas the charity believed would be more lucrative.

"Unfortunately, Scope has found itself in the same position as the likes of M&S and French Connection, to name but two," said the spokesman. "So far this year, they have already underperformed to the tune of £1m. But now, like all high street stores, we are working to ensure that we turn the situation around."

Bullock will be presenting a formal report of his findings and recommendations to Scope's executive board on 21 January.

Scope blamed the deficit partly on central and local government's failure to meet the full cost of services provided by the charity.

"Rather than let them collapse, Scope has subsidised them with £174m in the past 14 years," said the spokesman. He added that Scope had also experienced a shortfall in its fundraising income.

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