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Baird Group eyes rescue deal for troubled Bäumler

Menswear specialist The Baird Group (formerly BMB) is believed to be in talks to buy Bäumler after the German menswear brand filed for insolvency.

Bäumler, which has 100 stockists in the UK and turnover of about ¤90m (£80m), filed for insolvency last week after its bank GMAC froze its credit lines.

Sources told Drapers The Baird Group was interested in bolting the Bäumler brand onto its existing branded supply business, which includes Swedish lifestyle brand Melka, the Ben Sherman suiting licence, tailoring label Gibson London and outerwear brand Baracuta.

The Baird Group, which also operates the 75-store Suits You retail chain and several department store concessions, could use its existing sourcing base and buying power to make cost savings, and take advantage of Bäumler’s 2,000 global accounts to drive sales of its other brands. It is also likely to be keen to stock Bäumler, which regularly features in the best-sellers list of Drapers’ Indicator survey, in its retail outlets.

Bäumler is the latest in a string of German brands to fall victim to the downturn. Womenswear brand Escada filed for insolvency last month while mainstream brands such as Delmod and Lucia have encountered difficulties. Bäumler said that its sales were likely to have fallen 15% by the end of the current year.

Autumn 09 deliveries of the brand have been unaffected by the administration but the situation regarding spring 10 orders remains unclear.

Separately, according to TNS Worldpanel Fashion data seen by Drapers, overall men’s suiting sales rose 2% to £902.6m for the 52 weeks to July 19 but The Baird Group’s Suits You chain saw a dramatic fall in market share, from 4.4% of the total suit market to just 2.4% in the 52 weeks to July 19 (see table, opposite).

The Baird Group chairman and chief executive Peter Lucas declined to comment on a potential acquisition of Bäumler but denied market speculation that Suits You was struggling and said it would return to profitability next year.

“We are very happy with the way it is tracking. Suits You is not for sale and is definitely not going into administration,” he said. He added that he planned to open a further five stores this year, and up to 10 next year.

By contrast, Moss Bros – Suit’s You’s direct rival – saw its share rise from 3% to 5.1% over the 26-week period to July 19 and from 4.1% to 5.7% over the 52-week period.

Moss Bros stocks Bäumler, which is believed to generate about 10% of its suiting sales – industry experts estimate the German brand’s sales to be worth about £5m to Moss Bros annually.

Other menswear chain’s to record a decline in suiting share included Topman, Burton and Next. However, several retailers disputed the validity of the figures in the report.

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