Ben Sherman is expected to be snapped up by one of two US buyers over the next couple of weeks as talks enter the “final furlong”, said an industry source.
US owner Oxford Industries, which has owned the brand for 10 years, put Ben Sherman up for sale in March because it had weaker performance than sister brands Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer in recent quarters.
One menswear industry source said: “There are two US buyers with offers on the table with some serious money at stake.”
He said offers are thought to be in the region of £50m and that the deal will be concluded in a matter of weeks.
One private equity investor said: “We looked at it and put in an offer but a big US corporate – I think a retailer or brand house – has put in an offer that was about 10 times what we did.
“Ours was what we’d call market price because the business has been loss-making for years, but they might be able to see something we can’t. [Perhaps] they can integrate it into their existing supply chain or routes to market.”
When Oxford Industries announced the sale, Ben Sherman’s chief executive Mark Maidment said: “Ben Sherman’s strong heritage and positive brand resurgence has laid a good foundation for moving forward with a sale process. The Ben Sherman team are focused on running the business well, continuing in our work to build this great brand and ensuring a smooth transition of ownership.”
For the year to January 31, sales at the brand were up 26.6% to £17.2m. However, it made a full-year loss of £7.3m, down from £8.8m the year before.
Oxford Industries and Ben Sherman did not respond to Drapers’ request for comment.