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Base Menswear in administration

The future of 100-year old fashion retailer Base Menswear is uncertain after the business went into administration.

Administrator Leonard Curtis is weighing up options for the Essex-based young fashion chain, which has 18 stores under the Base Menswear and Base Boys fascias across the UK. The chain was forced into administration yesterday after being hit by sustained difficult trading over the past six months.

Managing director Marc Granditer said: “There will be a restructuring of the business that needs to take place over the next few weeks. With the support of landlords and suppliers, we would like to think that there’s a possibility of a viable business in the future. We’ve been in business for many years and have a reputation that is second to none.

He added: “There is no question that we’ve underperformed over the past six months. When we look at a longer term view, there’s every opportunity to create a viable and healthy business when the market picks up.”

Base Menswear is the latest branded young fashion chain to fall on hard times, with the likes of USC, D2, Bank, Scotts and Envy all posting losses last year. This has triggered consolidation in the young fashion sector, with the John David Group snapping up Bank to gain scale with Scotts, and Sir Tom Hunter offloading D2 to its management team last week. Alexon sold its Envy chain for £1 this week to former Dolcis owner John Kinnaird to escape the retailer’s drain on Alexon Group profits.

Suppliers said that Base Menswear had suffered a classic case of overexpansion in an economic downturn. One said: “It is a southern-based company with a southern mindset. I don’t think its boyswear concept worked as well in the north. The business also rolled out some big stores too quickly, and some didn’t really look good enough for the locations or compared with the competition.

The Base Menswear chain is not connected to the Base London footwear brand other than as stockist of the label.

 Suppliers called for Kinnaird to outline his plans for Envy following his acquisition this week. Brands told Drapers they were nervous about the deal, but that they would reserve judgement until receiving an update from Kinnaird, who is also trying to save his Dolcis chain from administration. Kinnaird was not available for comment as Drapers went to press.

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