Austin Reed Group has been bought by Alteri Investors, Drapers can exclusively reveal.
Austin Reed on Regent Street
Alteri first became involved with Austin Reed Group when it provided a three-year loan in May 2015 to buy new stock and invest in the group’s online operations. It is understood that that the firm has now acquired the loan notes and shareholder capital, and chief executive Nick Hollingworth and chief financial officer Alan Charlton are expected to stay on in their roles.
Alteri was formed in October 2014 as a joint venture between US private equity group Apollo Global Management and Gavin George, former chief executive of restructuring specialist GA Europe, to invest in struggling retailers on the UK high street. It acquired footwear retailers Brantano and Jones Bootmaker in October 2015 and Brantano entered administration in January 2016. Alteri later bought back 81 stores and 59 concessions.
Alteri also gave German fashion house Basler a senior debt facility of an undisclosed amount in June 2015, as part of a takeover deal for the retailer and brand agreed by German private equity firm Tempus Capital.
It comes as the Austin Reed Group has appointed turnaround consultancy AlixPartners, a year after the retailer entered into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) and closed more than 30 underperforming stores.
Austin Reed Group chief executive Nick Hollingworth told Drapers earlier this week: “We are working with AlixPartners looking at a wide range of options for the business as any responsible director would do when trading is difficult and the retail landscape is changing considerably.”
He declined to comment on specific plans but confirmed the lease on the 35,000 sq ft Austin Reed flagship on Regent Street is up for sale after the rent jumped from £1.68m to £2.9m.
“It’s not that we don’t like the Regent Street store – we love it, but it is unsustainable.”
He added: “We have now completed our CVA and closed nearly all of the stores we identified through that, although we did deals on one or two to stay open. Now we’re doing what any other good retailers are doing which is looking at the bottom performing stores and where to open new ones.”
He said the group, which comprises classic menswear and womenswear chain Austin Reed and mainstream womenswear retailers Viyella and CC, currently trades from around 150 stores and concessions.
Austin Reed Group was previously owned by Darius Capital, which is controlled by property tycoon Guy Naggar. It appointed professional services firm Deloitte at the end of 2014 to work on a strategic review after it made a £1.29m loss in the year to January 31 2014.
Around 99% of creditors approved the CVA in February last year.
Alix was brought in to advise Jaeger following the departure of its chief executive last September.