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Bench and Hooch change hands

Americana International, owner of the Bench and Hooch brands, has been acquired by private equity company HgCapital for £190 million, kickstarting the fashion house's international growth plans.

HgCapital has snapped up the Manchester-based business from rival firm ISIS Equity Partners, which paid £20m for it in 2003. Its new owners hope to push Americana's labels into international markets and open stores in key European cities including London.

Wholesale sales at Bench have increased by more than 20% a year over the past five years. However, Americana chairman David Brock told Drapers that account growth had been capped in the UK, but that a London store location was "crucial".

Bench has made big gains in Germany, according to Brock, and there are plans to build on this success by expanding its presence across Europe and beyond. "China is set to be a big market for us and we are looking to increase our penetration in each market with our distribution partners," he said.

Bench and Hooch launched a new shop-in-shop concept last year in three House of Fraser stores, and are understood to be in talks about rolling out the concept to nine more.

The brands are sold in independents and multiples including USC, Bank and Republic in the UK and in more than 20 countries worldwide.

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