High-street fashion chains Oasis and Warehouse have collapsed into administration, affecting 2,000 workers across 92 branches and 437 concessions.

The Oasis and Warehouse Group had been actively involved in a sale process, according to reports.

It was earlier reported that at least two prospective buyers had come forward but that the deal could not be finalised.

Both retailers have shops in the city. 

The coronavirus pandemic is eating into British high street businesses, which were already facing difficulties before the outbreak started.

Thousands of jobs at department store chain Debenhams may be at risk after the High Court ruled its administrators could be liable for furloughed staff's full wages.

The company appointed administrators from the FRP Advisory last week as it entered administration for the second time in the past 12 months

Debenhams' 142 UK stores remain closed in line with Government guidance and the company has said it will work to "re-open and trade as many stores as possible" when restrictions are lifted.

Around 13,000 of its employees in the UK are currently being paid under the Government's job retention scheme (JRS), which covers 80% of the salaries of furloughed staff up to £2,500 a month.

FRP says "it is necessary to 'mothball' the business during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to seek to rescue it in the months to come", and that it wants to continue paying furloughed staff under the JRS.

However, lawyers representing FRP said it may be forced to make "a large part of the significant number of employees of Debenhams" redundant if it is responsible for staff wage liabilities.

The administrators applied to the High Court for a declaration that the contracts of staff who had been furloughed prior to their appointment would not be "adopted" by FRP if they continued to pay 80% of furloughed employees' wages.

Under insolvency law, if an employee's contract is "adopted" wage liabilities enjoy "super-priority status", meaning they are payable before the expenses of the administration and the claims of creditors.

FRP alternatively applied for a declaration that any potential wage liability should be limited to the 80% of wages which will be reimbursed by the Government under the JRS.

But, following a remote hearing on Wednesday, Mr Justice Trower refused to make a declaration, saying: "I think it is likely that the participation by companies in administration in the JRS and the payment of equivalent amounts to furloughed employees ... means that the contracts of employment ... will have been adopted by the administrators."

During the hearing, FRP's barrister Tom Smith QC said that, if the contracts were considered to have been adopted, the administrators would have to decide "whether they are able to adopt the employment contracts of all or some of the furloughed employees, or - as seems more likely - will be compelled to make the majority of them redundant".

After Mr Justice Trower's ruling, Mr Smith indicated that FRP might pursue an appeal against the judge's decision.

Petrol prices have dipped to their lowest level in nearly four years, new figures show.

The average cost of petrol at UK forecourts is £1.09 per litre, according to Government data.

It has not been that cheap since May 2016.

Some retailers are pricing their petrol at less than £1 per litre.
Filling up a 55-litre family car is around £10 cheaper today than in late January.

Diesel costs an average of £1.16p per litre, which is the lowest level since July 2017.

The number of motorists taking advantage of cheaper fuel is limited however, as the Government has ordered people to only go outside for food, health reasons or to commute if they cannot work from home.

Department for Transport figures show that road traffic is around two-thirds lower than normal.

The drop in fuel prices is due to the price of oil falling off a cliff since the beginning of the year, with Brent crude, the international standard, briefly dropping below 25 US dollars per barrel two weeks ago.

Analysts had put the fall - from around 64 dollars at the start of January - down to the double pressure from a production dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and falling demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When Russia, the Saudis and other allies eventually agreed to the biggest production cuts in history last week, oil rose again.

But this week demand has dominated the narrative. Brent dropped a further 5% to 28.27 dollars on Wednesday after the International Energy Agency warned producers to expect the lowest global oil demand in 25 years this month.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: "It's ironic that people being restricted from driving has contributed to the oil price going into freefall as a result of supply far outstripping demand.

"While cars are vital in the coronavirus pandemic for essential journeys, the vast majority of drivers are doing very few miles so can't benefit from these low prices which were last seen four years ago.
"We strongly urge motorists to follow the Government's instruction to stay at home and not to be tempted to take advantage of cheaper fuel by driving more.