Saturday, 3 June 2017

200 jobs go but 1,700 saved in womenswear brands takeover

About 200 jobs will be lost but 1,700 more salvaged in a multimillion pound rescue deal for the struggling owner of womenswear brands, including Jacques Vert.
Sky News understands that approximately 200 of the 1,900 employees of Style Group Brands will leave as part of a pre-pack administration to be announced on Saturday.

Sources said that a group of investors - revealed by Sky News earlier this week - would close Style Group Brands' standalone stores as part of their transformation plan for the business.

A trio of businessmen, including Sandeep Vyas and Haseeb Aziz, are buying the company with the backing of Harold Tillman, the former chairman of the British Fashion Council.

Style Group Brands' portfolio, which includes Windsmoor and Eastex, has a presence within department stores such as Debenhams and House of Fraser.

While pre-pack administrations can be controversial because they enable a new owner to shed some of a company's liabilities, it will be viewed as a positive outcome in this case because the alternative was a straightforward liquidation, according to insiders.

However, there will still be scepticism about Style Group Brands' long-term prospects because of the tough trading environment on the UK high street.

Sky News revealed last week that KPMG was racing to find a new owner willing to buy the company or its assets, with current backer Sun European Partners unwilling to continue funding the business.

The company‎ trades from more than 1,850 outlets in 470 separate locations in the UK, Europe and Canada, and employs approximately 1,900 people - the majority of whom are based in store concessions.
Style describes itself as the UK's largest womenswear concession retailer, owning brands which also include Dash and Precis.

The company was formed from the merger of Jacques Vert and Irisa Group‎, and its brands are also sold through John Lewis' online operation.

The sale process comes amid a flurry of auctions of women's fashion brands.

The parent company of Oasis and Warehouse has been put up for sale, while Jaeger recently changed hands after falling into administration.

Hobbs is also on the market, with shareholders in LK Bennett recently pumping millions of pounds into the business to fund expansion plans.

Clothing retailers are facing growing pressure from the impact of inflation, which will lead to substantial price hikes, and concern about the consumer spending climate.

Other costs such as those associated with the national living wage and apprenticeship levy are also posing a significant challenge on the high street.

Sun European‎ and KPMG declined to comment, while none of the potential new investors, nor Mr Tillman, could be reached.

SKY    News.