Aquascutum is set to be bought by its Asian brand owner, YGM Trading, weeks after the brand went into administration.
Hong-Kong based YGM Trading, which owns the Aquascutum brand in 42 countries across Asia, has entered into an exclusivity agreement with administrator FRP Advisory, after financial commitment from YGM Trading saw off competition from more than 70 bidders.
The agreement, expected to finalise on May 9, will see YGM take control of Aquascutum’s business and assets.
Geoff Rowley, Joint Administrator at FRP, said in a statement: “The joint administrators have been very encouraged by the significant interest shown in the business over the last two weeks and have chosen to proceed with the offer that delivers the best outcome for the creditors of Aquascutum.”
The acquisition will not come as a surprise to industry figures, which agreed that a sale to any buyer, other than YGM Trading, would be difficult given its dominance over the brand in Asia – a key growth market.
Meanwhile, negotiations to secure a separate buyer for Aquascutum’s Corby factory continue.
James Eden, boss of menswear business Cooper & Stollbrand, which emerged as a bidder for Aquascutum and its Corby plant days after the British heritage business’ collapse, said he was “extremely disappointed” and “devastated” with YGM’s exclusivity.
He said: “We put in a bid over and above the asking price for the business and the Corby factory, and we’ve now been told that the administrator in talks with YGM. I am fairly confident I was the only bid that had genuine interest in keeping open the Corby factory.”
Eden expressed concern that YGM would move Aquascutum production out of the UK. He will still bid for the Corby plant, though this will depend on discussions with YGM.
“We’ll have to assess their commitment to British manufacturing,” said Eden.
Andrew Chan, executive director and general manager, Aquascutum International and YGM Marketing, said that YGM would “look to retain the business in the UK”.
He said: “We will try our best to retain the business in the UK. We will look and review fairly and objectively all the staff, all the leases and every part of the business that is currently ongoing. We think that Aquascutum is a British brand with heritage and will definitely continue that. It’s a key selling point for Aquascutum to retain heritage.”