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Buyout deal saves Emma Somerset

Womenswear mini-chain Emma Somerset has been rescued from administration by Moda In Pelle owner and serial retail investor Stephen Buck.

Buck has bought the 10-store company, which went into administration in January, plus its two French Dressing shops in Sheffield and Altrincham in Cheshire. His Moda In Pelle footwear business had concessions in French Dressing.

Moda In Pelle managing director Tom Clark will run Emma Somerset on behalf of Buck. Clark told Drapers he was evaluating the operation, but said there were good synergies between Moda In Pelle and Emma Somerset.

“There are synergies between the product and customer base of both businesses,” he said.

“We are in the midst of business evaluation, but we will roll out new stores and open concessions in department stores if it is appropriate.”

Sources in the market told Drapers that Buck was “highly acquisitive” and was ready to pounce on other floundering businesses to take advantage of the retail downturn.

Buck has a history of buying businesses out of administration. In 2006 he rescued Midlands-based footwear mini chain Solution, and he invested in struggling department store Peters of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, also in 2006. He bought Moda In Pelle back from administration in the same year.

Emma Somerset was founded in 1969 by husband and wife Geoffrey and Angela Cantor, who sold it to the manage-ment, David Barker and Roger Newton, in 2004. It has shops in Birmingham, Cardiff, Chester and Southport in Lancashire, and sells brands such as Escada and Betty Barclay, but has struggled to compete in a difficult climate. It was first rescued from administration by Barker and Newton in 2006.

Meanwhile, Buck’s brother Daniel Buck, owner of premium footwear mini chain Daniel Footwear, has bought Belle Scarpe, a footwear retailer with a 4,000sq ft store in Birmingham’s Mailbox development.

Daniel Buck said he intended to revamp Belle Scarpe. He said: “As long as people like Italian pieces rather than product made in China, it will have an appeal.”

Stephen Buck was unavailable for comment.

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