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Americana pulls plug on Hooch brand

Americana International has closed its Hooch brand after sales collapsed in the tough economic climate.

The private equity-backed young fashion group said it had taken the decision to axe the women’s young fashion brand, which had 200 stockists across the UK and Europe, to enable it to devote more resources to its Bench brand, which has performed more strongly in the downturn, gaining sales domestically and internationally. Two jobs in the Hooch design team are understood to have been lost as a result.

“The Hooch forward-order book wasn’t where we wanted it to be,” said Americana chief executive Peter McGuigan. “It was down to both the positioning and the economic climate. Bench is growing and the opportunities there are enormous.”

Manchester-based Americana International was bought by private equity company HgCapital for £190 million in 2007. At the time, the group had sales of about £80m and pre-tax profits of approximately £20m. Financial performance since then is unclear. Americana International is due to file its next set of accounts at Companies House by the end of April.

Sources in the market told Drapers that Hooch was a casualty of the crisis in the women’s branded young fashion market. Since the economic downturn, female shoppers have deserted brands in favour of cheaper fashion from value players on the high street. However, the branded young fashion sector as a whole has remained fairly resilient.

One Bench stockist said: “Women aren’t bothered what brand something is. They want good fast fashion and aren’t willing to pay the branded premium.”

The closure of Hooch will still come as a surprise to the sector. Americana had made significant investment in the brand in the past year, signing model Daisy Lowe to front its collection and opening a concession in the landmark Topshop store on London’s Oxford Circus. The concession subsequently closed earlier this year.

McGuigan will focus on growing Bench overseas.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I am sad to see Hooch go. I remember when it was more popular than Bench in the UK and I thought it was still doing reasonably overseas. I prefer to think Americana has put Hooch on the backburner through the recession and that they might resurrect it when we get back to easier times. In the meantime, good luck with Bench.

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