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Basler ready for retail push following MBO

Basler chairman Hans Maret said the management buyout of the German womenswear brand has “cleared the path for development”, with retail expansion topping the to-do list.

Last week, Basler’s management team signed an agreement to take over all shares in the business from private equity owner Triton, following negotiations with both parties and Basler’s banks.

In February, Basler’s debts were reduced from €215m (£185m) to €80m (£69m) after its creditor banks granted the brand a debt haircut. Triton also gave the business a new €10m loan this year, allowing Basler to invest in its network of standalone stores.

Maret said the refinancing deal, loan and MBO have helped to secure Basler’s finances and “cleared the path for development”.

Chief executive Reiner Unkel added: “The new positioning of Basler as a brand name and its further internationalisation have taken us onto the right path. This agreement gives us a sound financial structure, which allows for the consequent implementation of our chosen strategy.”

Since Triton acquired Basler in 2006, the brand has ramped up its retail strategy, growing its stores and concessions from five to 120 across the UK, US, Russia and Australia.

It has eight stores in the UK and 187 stockists, including womenswear boutique Anne Furbank in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, and department store Browns of York.

A source close to the situation told Drapers the MBO would be a good move for the brand, providing it with further capital to invest in its offering. “It is a much more sound business,” he said.

“The company has always been profitable with a turnover of €170m (£145m) but has not been able to maintain its profit because it had such a big interest burden.”

He added: “It will free them up to consider their options, whether they are going to invest into retail openings, their product or their wholesale operations.”

The brand has been moving towards retail in the UK. In 2007, 100% of Basler’s UK business was wholesale; however, in the year to October 31, 2012, Basler’s UK business was made up of 53% retail and 47% wholesale.

Although the UK arm of the company still made a loss, it was reduced by around £400,000 to £922,300. Turnover during the year dropped slightly from £14.4m to £14.9m.

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