Athena chain to be relaunched

The Athena poster chain, which folded four years ago, is to be revived with the opening of a flagship store at the Bluewater shopping centre.

A consortium of former Athena franchisees, who bought 14 outlets, the Athena trademark and the logo from receivers in 1995, are to open the 1,700 sq ft store on March 16 with an upmarket interior design by John Silver & Co.

The Bluewater store will be a model for future openings within the chain, which plans to expand by at least a further three stores this year, bringing the chain up to 52 outlets.

Its products will include a new range of designer clocks, watches and pens, as well as traditional posters and cards.

Athena announced last month that it was publicly searching for new franchisees for the first time since the buyout.

Four years ago a group of Athena franchisees bought 14 of the 30 franchised shops within the 157-strong Athena chain for an undisclosed sum.

It was hoped the sale would stave off the collapse of parent group Pentos, under which Athena’s debts rose to 15m.

Debts for the whole group, which also included the Ryman stationery chain and Dillons bookstores, had spiralled to 55m. Pentos went into receivership three months after Athena.

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