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Former UK head of finance stole £500,000 from Basler

A former finance director who stole more than £500,000 from German womenswear brand Basler’s UK arm has been jailed for nearly three years, Drapers has learned.

Andrew Rowe, 36, who was the brand’s UK head of finance, is understood to have siphoned the money from Basler over a three and a half year period. He was arrested last year after he handed himself into police.

He was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court last month to two years and eight months in jail, and is expected to serve half of this.

Drapers understands from one source that Basler is now overseeing the UK accounts from its head office in the German village of Goldbach.

Basler UK made a loss after tax of £600,000 for the year to April 30 2015, compared to a loss of £1,395,000 the year before, documents filed at Companies House show. The company said it was operating in a “tough climate that is very hard to predict”, but added that it was in a “far stronger position” than in previous years. 

Last June, German private equity firm Tempus Capital acquired Basler Fashion Group for an undisclosed amount. London-based retail investment fund Alteri Investors provided Basler with a new debt facility as part of the deal.

Founded in Berlin in 1936, Basler has around 160 stores worldwide and more than 1,600 points of sale in 60 countries. It has four UK stores in Knightsbridge, Chichester, Epsom and Brent Cross, as well as 10 concessions, one outlet store and three concessions in Ireland.

It has 140 wholesale locations in the UK and Ireland including Anne Furbank in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, Fenwick’s Brent Cross and Newcastle stores and Ambers of Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

Rolf Boje became chief executive of Basler in January, replacing Reiner Unkel.

Basler declined to comment.

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