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Roman Originals snaps up CDU occasionwear brands

Stockists of occasionwear brands Frank Usher, Dusk, Coterie and Michel Ambers will not receive autumn 11 orders after new owner Roman Originals decided it was “not practical to produce and supply” the ranges.

Roman Originals, the Birmingham mainstream womenswear manufacturer and retailer, has acquired the brands out of receivership for an undisclosed amount, after previous owner and manufacturer CDU was placed in administration in April. John Whitfield and Philip Duffy, joint administrator and partners at MCR, handled the sale.

In a statement, Roman Originals said: “Owing to the timing of the acquisition and the work that had been completed by that time, the new owners have decided that it is not practical to produce and supply ranges for autumn 11.”

It added that Frank Usher and Dusk would be relaunched for spring 12 in major department stores and selected independent stockists, while Michel Ambers and Coterie will be reintroduced later in 2012.

Roman Originals sells its mainstream womenswear label via more than 150 doors in the UK, including about 40 Roman Originals standalones, department stores such as Allders in Croydon and Beales and discount department store chain TJ Hughes.

Roman Originals managing director Rick Christo said: “We have been looking to add to our portfolio and this deal brings us some of the best-known brands in the market.”

MCR’s Whitfield said Roman Originals was a “natural home” for the CDU brands. He added: “These are well-established brands with a dedicated and loyal customer base so the key driver for us was to protect the brands and in doing so maximise the return to creditors of CDU plc from their sale.”

CDU hit the buffers after struggling amid poor trading conditions for the past two years.

The sale does not include CDU’s factory in Leek, Staffordshire, or its 44 employees, who are being made redundant.

Roman Originals faces a significant task to reignite interest in the brands, particularly Frank Usher, which several stockists had already decided not to stock beyond spring 11.

Ali Kynaston-Mainwaring, owner of occasionwear indie Alizari in Chester, said she had dropped the brand after 20 years because it had been “disappointing for a while”. Jillian Hart, owner of Jillian Hart in Derby, said she had not been impressed by the autumn 11 collection and decided not to buy as a result.

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