270 jobs to go in womenswear rescue deal

Business & Economy 04 Jun 2017
270 jobs to go in womenswear rescue deal

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

The Style Group Brands jobs will go as part of a deal to be announced this weekend, Sky News learns.

Image: Style Group Brands' portfolio includes Windsmoor, Eastex and Jacques Vert

More than 270 jobs will be lost but 1,700 more salvaged in a multimillion pound rescue of the struggling owner of womenswear brands including Jacques Vert.

In a statement on Saturday, administrators to Style Group Brands confirmed that more than 270 of its 1,900 employees will leave following a takeover by Calvetron Style Holdings, a new investment vehicle.

The redundancies include almost 100 staff at Style Group Brands' head office in Shoreditch and warehouses in County Durham. Over 1,250 of the salvaged jobs are based in the UK.

Will Wright, a partner at KPMG, which handled the administration process, said: "Whilst a significant number of jobs have been preserved, sadly redundancies will be made.

"Over the coming days, our priority is to ensure all employees who have been affected by redundancy receive the information and guidance they need in order to claim their entitlement from the Redundancy Payments Office."

Sky News revealed this week that the new owners would close Style Group Brands' standalone stores as part of their transformation plan.

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.

KPMG had been 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 took place 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.

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