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International ambitions follow Style Group's administration

Style Group Brands will expand further in the Middle East and launch into India, China and some European countries following its pre-pack administration, chief executive Shaun Wills has said.

As revealed by Drapers last week, Style Group Brands, which owns womenswear brands Jacques Vert, Eastex, Dash and Precis, appointed Will Wright and Rob Croxen of KPMG as administrators on 2 June. At the time it was owned by private equity firm Sun European Partners.

Most of the business was immediately bought in a pre-pack administration deal by Calvetron Brands, which counts Harold Tillman, Sandeep Vyas and Haseeb Aziz among its investors.

Wills now plans to roll out the business out internationally and capitalise on “underpotentialised” online growth.

“We have proven that we work well internationally with our success in Canada and the Middle East, and it’s our investors’ view that, if we can hold our own in the UK, we can do the same in less-developed retail territories.

“We are looking at further expansion in the Middle East as the product works well there, and India and China further down the line. We’re also looking at some European countries.

“The older demographic [that form our customer base] are late adopters but, as they get more used to shopping online, that market could balloon.”

Wills said all suppliers will be contacted over the next couple of days to discuss their position and to “try and find a solution”.

However some suppliers told Drapers they were worried they would be left out of pocket.

One supplier, who claims to be owed a six-figure sum, said: “We haven’t had any word from the administrators yet. I have worked with the brands for almost 30 years – I’m hoping our relationships will endure and they will defend our position so we can come up with a solution.

“We’re not a big company so losing this amount of money could destroy us. Since Brexit a lot of businesses in Britain are crumbling because of the weakened pound. It’s very tough out there.”

Another supplier said: “I haven’t spoken to the administrators yet, but I’ve been chasing to see what the next course of action is. I’m hoping in the long term that the company will be a better risk. For the last four years there has been uncertainty over whether or not they would pay a bill. Hopefully they will now have the right finance behind them and will have a more sensible approach to suppliers.”

He added: “The law has to change. Pre-packs are completely unfair, as it’s the suppliers that lose out.”

As a result of the pre-pack administration, 318 concessions in the UK and Ireland, 51 in Canada and 14 the Middle East will continue to operate, as well as five UK stores. This will secure around 1,719 jobs, 1,272 of which are UK based.

However, 17 Jacques Vert stores in the UK and seven concessions in Belgium were not part of the deal and closed immediately, resulting in 272 job losses, including 98 staff at the head office in Shoreditch, east London, and two warehouses in County Durham.

Style Group Brands is the latest casualty in the mainstream womenswear market. Last week, German womenswear brand Basler applied for “self-administration” at the Aschaffenburg District Court in Germany to allow it to restructure.

German insolvency law offers companies the option of restructuring in insolvency procedures under their own management, rather than giving control to an administrator. However, an administration assistant is appointed.

Meanwhile, a group of suppliers who claim to be owed millions of pounds following Jaeger’s demise in April have formally requested a creditors’ meeting with administrators from AlixPartners, to hear their proposals for compensating unsecured creditors. 

In the year to 30 January 2016, its most recent published figures, Style Group Brands’ sales dropped 10% to £158m and it made on operating loss of £8m.

 

Readers' comments (2)

  • So how can they operate without a warehouse?

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  • Why not change the headline to something like "Suppliers set to lose out on pre-pack funded expsnsion" ?

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