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Exclusive: Karen Millen founder hopes buyer saves business

Karen Millen’s eponymous founder hopes the company will find a buyer with the vision to position it “back where it belongs” after the retailer confirmed it is up for sale. 

The premium womenswear retailer’s Icelandic parent company, Kaupthing, has launched a sale process for the business.  

It comes after its management team appointed consultancy firm Deloitte earlier this month to consider options for the business, following a string of takeover bids.

A Karen Millen spokeswoman said: “Following a recent wide-ranging review, it has been concluded that a sale of Karen Millen represents the best way forward for the business. A sale process has now been initiated and is being managed by Deloitte. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

Millen, who founded the company in 1981, told Drapers: “I can’t say I am surprised that the company is looking for a potential buyer as it’s currently owned by a bank with limited creative ability, which has had a knock on effect to the way it appears and performs today.

“It does sadden me to see the demise of a once booming business that bears my name but I guess that’s the compromise when you sell your business, it’s left in others hands and no one can predict what the future holds for it as the years go by.

“I hope it finds a buyer that will give it all the help and support it needs with the vision to position it back where it belongs and not let it fall towards being a fast [fashion] clothing chain with no point of difference.”

Karen Millen put at least 100 head office roles into consultation after buying former sister brand Coast through a pre-pack administration in October last year.

The retailer reduced its operating losses by 85% to £1.4m in the year to February 2018 under a turnaround strategy led by chief executive Beth Butterwick.

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