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The fashion firms that changed hands in 2017

As the fashion industry played a game of pass the parcel with some of its key businesses, Drapers looks back at some of the firms that changed hands in 2017. 

Damsel in a Dress

South African retailer The Foschini Group bought the womenswear brand Damsel in a Dress in February, marking its third major UK acquisition in two years following the purchases of Phase Eight and Whistles.

Six months later, the brand opened its first standalone store on Nile Street in Brighton, and revealed plans to open 100 further UK stores and concessions.


In February, SecretSales was sold to Excalibur Group, the owner of deals websites Wowcher and LivingSocial UK and Ireland.

The group made clear its intention to invest significantly in the discount site over the next two to three years, but this didn’t prevent the departure of four directors, including chairman Sergio Dias, shortly following the sale. Secretsales’ co-founders Nish and Sach Kukadia, however, stuck around to lead the business, as chief executive and buying director respectively.

Nasty Gal

It was also in February when Boohoo acquired US retailer Nasty Gal’s assets, completed by the end of the month.

Both have had a bumper year since. In April Nasty Gal revealed it was setting its sights on global expansion, launched its first UK affiliate marketing programme in August and opened its first pop-up in November. And Boohoo’s sales doubled in the six months to 31 August.

Jones Bootmaker

Private equity firm Endless stepped to the fore when Jones Bootmaker fell into administration in March, buying the footwear retailer in a pre-pack deal.

The footwear industry welcomed the news, optimistic that the new owners would give the retailer a much-needed cash injection and boost its online offering. The firm acquired 72 stores, while 25 underperforming locations and six concessions that weren’t part of the sale were closed.

However, in August, nine additional stores were closed.


In March agency FourMarketing – in which Sports Direct has a 25% stake – bought back the premium menswear etailer it launched in 2001.

Ben Banks, FourMarketing’s co-founder, vowed that his management team and himself would “take Oki-Ni forward into a new phase,” and focus on product in a “truly positive” step for the brand.

It relaunched with a new online platform in October, although this was a month later than planned following technical issues.


Designer label Osman was bought by private equity firm Luxcite in August.

As part of a pre-pack administration deal, the London-based business bought a stake in the brand for an undisclosed sum. Suppliers were informed two days later.


US footwear group Wolverine World Wide sold boat shoe brand Sebago in August to BasicNet, the Italian company that owns Kappa, K-Way and Superga

It sold for $14.3m (£10.8m), and founder and president of the BasicNet Group Marco Boglione said it was a “great opportunity” for both its commercial and industrial licensees.

La Perla

Shangai-based investment group Fosun International stated its intentions to acquire a controlling stake in lingerie brand La Perla in December.

The potential sale followed a successful couple of years for the luxury brand, during which it gained a new creative director and launched a try-before-you-buy service.

The group and La Perla’s parent company, Pacific Global Management, agreed to a 30-day exclusivity period for it to carry out the work – though this was subject approval from the former’s investment committee.

Crew Clothing

The sale of Crew Clothing in December coincided with  chief executive Louise Barnes stepping down after three years in the role.

Previously owned by private equity firm Livingbridge, the new proprietor is US wholesaler Exquisite Apparel. 

Following investment in its head office, Crew Clothing saw pre-tax losses mount from £2.5m to £2.9m in the year to 30 October 2016, and industry sources predicted that the deal would lead to store closures.

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