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Ben Sherman sold to Marquee Brands for £41m

Oxford Industries has sold Ben Sherman to US brand house Marquee Brands for £40.8m.

New York-based Marquee Brands, run by former Kenneth Cole boss Michael DeVirgilio, was established last year as a brand acquisition, licensing and development company operating with private equity firm Neuberger Berman. It has recently acquired Italian luxury shoe brand Bruno Magli.

DeVirgilio worked at Kenneth Cole for 17 years until September 2014, most recently as president of licensing and international. Prior to Kenneth Cole he was director of merchandising at Joseph & Feiss, a division of Hugo Boss US.

He said: “We are particularly excited about this transaction as Ben Sherman is consistent with our mission to acquire high quality brands with substantial global growth potential. The current management team under Oxford’s leadership has done a great job building on the core essence of the brand. We’ve received supportive messages from retailers across the globe that share our view of the growth opportunity ahead.”

“Ben Sherman remains a uniquely classic British brand with a loyal following across five continents and a smartness that’s ageless,” said Marquee Brands chief operating officer Cory Baker. “Its heritage, style and authenticity fits perfectly within Marquee’s growing portfolio.

“Our plans to market and promote the brand across various lifestyle categories are well underway with new products and expanded retail coming to market as early as first quarter, 2016.”

US firm Oxford Industries, which has owned Ben Sherman for 10 years, put the brand up for sale in March because it had weaker performance than sister brands Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer in recent quarters. Oxford Industries paid £80m for it in 2004.

For the year to January 31, sales at Ben Sherman were up 26.6% to £49m. However, it made a full-year loss of £7.3m, down from £8.8m the year before.

“We truly appreciate the efforts of our Ben Sherman associates,” said Thomas C Chubb III, Oxford’s chairman and chief executive. “Their dedication and enthusiasm for this iconic brand was clearly communicated to potential buyers, and was a critical component of this successful sales process.

“It has been a pleasure working with Marquee Brands to quickly culminate this transaction, which we believe will benefit both companies. Looking forward, with the strength of our Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer brands, Oxford is well-positioned to continue to generate long-term value for our shareholders.”


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