Berwin & Berwin, a men’s tailoring supplier that is part of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, has entered into a consultation period with a number of employees at its Leeds site, after it failed to reach an agreement with House of Fraser’s new owner Sports Direct over future trading terms.
Drapers revealed that Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM) pulled all of its stock, out of the department store chain after negotiations with Sports Direct collapsed earlier this month. EMW supplied own-brand HoF ranges manufactured by Berwin & Berwin, and ran concessions for Berwin & Berwin, Jaeger, Jane Norman and Calvetron Brands in HoF.
Berwin & Berwin employs around 50 people at its Leeds site, which focuses on private label, but not all of these people will be affected by the consultation, Drapers understands. The consultation will run for a minimum of 30 days and the future of the Leeds office is now in doubt.
As previously reported, House of Fraser is to axe its remaining house brands as it reshapes its strategy under new owner Sports Direct, Drapers understands.
Berwin & Berwin also sells its own brands including Paul Costelloe, Lambretta and Baumler. The branded business will continue as normal.
Berwin & Berwin employs around 800 people in total. Its German and Hungarian operations are run by EWM Group as a joint venture with unnamed partners. Baumler is based in Berwin & Berwin’s German office, while Berwin & Berwin’s Hungarian operations are home to the company’s factory.
EWM acquired Berwin & Berwin out of administration in February in a pre-pack deal. EWM Group bought Austin Reed, for which Berwin & Berwin was the main supplier, in November 2016. It then bought Jaeger - another business supplied by Berwin & Berwin - in March last year.
A spokesman for Berwin & Berwin told Drapers: “Like a number of other major brands across the UK, the collapse of House of Fraser has had a significant negative impact on our business. It has created a great deal of upheaval in the high street and has forced us, along with many other suppliers, to reassess the way we work.
“Berwin & Berwin has a long and proud history of working with House of Fraser. We have worked closely, successfully and amicably with the business and its management over many years. Ending our relationship with House of Fraser is something we never envisaged nor wanted to do.
“Sadly, earlier this month, despite our very best efforts over a protracted period, we could not reach an agreement with House of Fraser’s new owner, Sports Direct, about terms that gave us confidence in the long-term future of department store and their commitment to suppliers, and we were forced to terminate all future work with the department store.”
The spokesman added: “Given that a significant amount of Berwin & Berwin’s business comes from manufacturing House of Fraser’s own-brand line of men’s formal wear, this has had an unavoidable impact on our business and, as a direct result, we have entered into consultation with our colleagues about the future of the Leeds office.
“Our priority at this time is to our colleagues and their well-being, and we will seek to consult and communicate with them in the first instance.”
A spokesman for House of Fraser said: “Regrettably, Berwin & Berwin made their own decision to be among the very few brands who have chosen not to work with us.”