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Burton in talks over Baird concessions

Menswear supplier Baird Group is understood to have entered talks with Arcadia Group menswear chain Burton about converting its tailoring concessions to a straight suit supply agreement.

It is unclear which party prompted the discussions, but a source in the menswear market said talks were at an advanced stage

and that both parties would be “commercially better off” if the deal to shut down Baird’s 175 tailoring concessions went ahead.

Baird Group is thought to still have a number of years to run on its concession contract with the menswear chain, and there is understood to be an 18-month notice period for both parties in the existing agreement - hence the confusion over which party is driving the changes.

A source close to the situation said: “Burton has been talking to Baird for a number of months about the best way forward. It makes sense for it to run its own tailoring departments to get the full benefit of that. Margins are thin on supply deals, but this would mean Baird wouldn’t have the costs of running retail concessions attached.”

The concession closures could begin as early as January if Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green signs off the proposals ahead of the launch of the spring 11 season. Green himself is not thought to have been directly involved in conversations to date.

Some of Baird’s concessions are not staffed by the group, and all stock a minimum of four suit options.

The Burton management team took over the running of Bhs menswear last year when Wesley Taylor, formerly brand director of Burton, was appointed group head of menswear following the merger of Bhs into Green’s Arcadia. The merger of the two menswear businesses gave Taylor bigger scope and scale with regard to buying power.

Burton product has already been launched in selected Bhs stores around the country as part of Green’s plans to turn it into a multi-brand department store model. It is unclear how the model is performing.

Spending in the UK on men’s suits, jackets and blazers fell by 6% to £550m for the six months to June 20, according to market research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

However, there have been signs of men trading up on formalwear - Marks & Spencer’s £199 suit has overtaken its £99 version as its most popular. This autumn George at Asda collaborated with tailor Charlie Allen to launch a £79 suit to capitalise on what it said was the “end of disposable fashion”. Its non-branded suits range from £25 to £50.

Baird was unavailable for comment.

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