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A year after Lehman and still a way to go

Jessica Brown

One year on from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which sent the world into one of the worst recessions in memory, and the “experts” say it is probably now over, predicting the economy actually grew in the three months to August.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence seems to be recovering and employment figures are improving.

It’s good to hear positive noises but the fashion sector is not out of the woods yet – both outsize menswear chain High & Mighty and Robert de Keyser’s distribution company fell victim to the recession this week.

However, deal activity this week also pointed towards more confidence in the market with Jaeger-owner Harold Tillman snapping up Aquascutum and a management buyout at luxury footwear brand Cheaney. Tillman knows a good deal when he sees one – heritage brands are certainly where it’s at right now – and along with Jaeger chief executive Belinda Earl, he is sure to restore Aquascutum to its former glory.

But at the London Fashion Network’s first birthday party held at Soho House on Tuesday, conversation was still largely around the lack of lending from the banks, particularly to smaller companies. When credit lines will loosen is anyone’s guess, so thinking outside the box, putting pressure on factories and using specialist factoring firms are all higher up the agenda.

What the Lehman anniversary does bring though is soft comps, so we’re likely to start seeing positive like-for-like sales reported in the run-up to Christmas – a case in point is House of Fraser forecasting improving trade at its update this week. Certainly some signs of festive cheer would do wonders for morale and consumer confidence.

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