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Potential footwear licensees in fight for Ben Sherman

Young fashion brand Ben Sherman is in talks with a number of parties interested in acquiring its footwear licence just weeks after the lifestyle brand shut down its in-house
footwear operation.

As Drapers went to press, it was understood Ben Sherman would look to license out its footwear.

Brand house the Focus Group, which operates the UK licence for footwear brand Converse and is part owned by sportswear chain JD Sports Fashion, was believed to be a frontrunner for the deal. However, other unnamed parties were also thought to be circling.

At its height earlier this decade, Ben Sherman footwear generated about £10 million of sales, making it one of the largest footwear brands in the middle market. It closed its footwear business to focus on its core men’s and women’s wear operations after trade suffered amid the economic downturn.

“It would make someone a great licence,” said one branded footwear retailer. “The brand has a good profile and a strong following.”

Last month, Ben Sherman, which is owned by US supplier Oxford Industries, said sales in the fourth quarter ended January 31 had fallen by 30% to US6.2m (£18.2m), pushing the brand into the red with losses of US.2m (£1.5m) against a profit of US.7m (£1.87m) last year.

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