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Barön Jon saved by founders’ rescue deal

Branded menswear retailer Barön Jon has been bought out of administration by its founders, brothers Wayne and Lewis Selt.

Premium Retail, which traded as Barön Jon, fell into administration earlier this month and was immediately rescued in a pre-pack deal by a separate company called Premium Retail Group. According to documents filed at Companies House, Premium Retail Group changed its name from Jones Retail Shops in January.

The Hertfordshire-based Barön Jon chain, which sells branded and designer menswear including Ben Sherman and Versace, has hit the buffers before, most recently in 2006 after being hit by the downturn in consumer spending at that time.

Martin Henry Linton of administrator Leigh Adams told Drapers that most of the 260 staff employed at Barön Jon had retained their jobs. The 38-store retailer is in negotiations with landlords and about eight stores have been earmarked for closure, according to Linton.

The increased use of pre-pack administrations has proved controversial, as management are able to buy back the business as soon as it is in administration, free of its liabilities.

Lewis Selt declined to comment on the pre-pack administration and the reasons for Baron Jön’s collapse are unclear.

According to documents filed at Companies House, pre-tax profits at Premium Retail almost halved in the year to February 27, 2008, to £167,448 versus £302,684 the year before. Sales during the year were £20m, up from £16.6m the year before.

At the time of posting its accounts, the directors said the company was on track to achieve similar sales to February 2009. It added that the business was working with landlords to dispose of or relocate underperforming stores.

The menswear market has been hard hit by the recession. According to research group Verdict, the market is set to decline by 1.7% to £8.9bn in 2009, as men rein in their clothing spend.

In January, menswear chain Greenwoods fell into administration and was rescued by Harvest Fancy Hong Kong, an arm of Bosideng, one of China’s biggest clothing chains.

Last month, Speciality Retail Group restructured as part of plans to combine functions with stablemate BMB Group. It resulted in 50 job losses as roles were consolidated to cut costs.

An industry observer said: “The market is tough and canny retailers, not just Barön Jon, are working out how best to reduce their costs to help them in the current climate.

“The Barön Jon management know how best to manage their business and it is time to be thinking about how to realign and manage property costs to ensure long-term survival.”