Premium menswear mini-chain Aspecto has been acquired by Tessuti buying director Michael Ashcroft and his brother-in-law Tessuti founder and minority shareholder David Light to add to their growing fashion retail interests in the Northwest.
As well as Jack & Jones franchises, the pair have licensed the Bank name for use on stores selling a selection of brands from the Bestseller Group, Danish owner of Jack & Jones.
The Aspecto deal, which was completed last Friday, follows the death of Aspecto founder and managing director Mel Pilkington on May 21 after a long fight with cancer.
The new owners intend to continue the business in its current format and will invest further capital to secure its ongoing development.
“In view of the underlying circumstances relating to this transaction, and out of respect to the vendors, there will be no further statements in relation to this matter from either the vendors or the purchasers in the short term,” said the new owner in a statement. “We express thanks in anticipation of the strong level of continued support of the business which has been enjoyed to-date.”
Established in 1986, Aspecto has six stores: Manchester city centre, the Trafford Centre, Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham and Glasgow, as well as transactional website. Its clothing and footwear brands include Barbour, Carhartt and Adidas.
Light, who is married to Ashcroft’s sister Norma, told Drapers: “We intend to develop Aspecto, which has a lot of potential but has been underfinanced for some time.”
Aspecto is the latest piece in a growing fashion network being run by the pair, who have worked together for 25 years. Light founded Chester-based Tessuti in 1985 and built it into one of the strongest regional mini-chains on the back of premium brands like Armani, Stone Island and Polo Ralph Lauren.
JD Sports Fashion acquired 60% of the business four years ago, with Light retaining 40%. Ashcroft is buying director of Tessuti – “he looks after David’s interests,” a source told Drapers – but Light’s day-to-day involvement is understood to be minimal. Light stressed to Drapers that the Aspecto acquisition is an independent deal with no involvement from JD.
“I have lots of things going on,” he said. As well as property interests, Light runs six Jack & Jones franchises in the Northwest. He also operates seven stores under the Bank brand, having licensed the name from the administrator of the failed casualwear chain. It ceased trading earlier this year after JD sold the struggling business to a subsidiary of restructuring specialist Hilco Capital, which put it in to administration.
“I did a deal with the administrator to licence the Bank name for two years, which we may extend,” said Light. “I have done individual deals with the landlords who had the leases returned. We have refurbished some of the units and we could open more. We could continue with the Bank name or we could rebadge them; we will see how it goes.”
The stores, which sell men’s and women’s brands from Bestseller, which include Vero Moda, Only and Vila, are in Manchester Arndale, Liverpool One, Oldham, Huddersfield, Redditch, Ashton-under-Lyne and Newport.
Scottish accountant and former owner of the failed Faith footwear chain and Envy menswear chain John Kinnaird is understood to have been interested in acquiring Aspecto. He was appointed as a director of Aspecto on July 31, according to documents filed at Companies House, but he is not involved in the Ashcroft-Light deal.