Greg Tufnell, the former chief executive of fashion group Marchpole, has bought young fashion brand Peter Werth for an undisclosed sum.
Speaking exclusively to Drapers about the deal, Tufnell, who has taken a majority share in the brand, said: “Peter Werth is a well-established and well- regarded brand. It has been consistently profitable and its market positioning and pricing were attractive to me. It has enough volume and enough premium status to create good margins and returns.”
Tufnell reassured Peter Werth’s 250 stockists that the deal was “great news” for the brand and said there was huge potential for growth. He said he would look to expand Peter Werth beyond its smart casual roots into other product categories, which could include accessories. He is also expected to unlock international markets for the brand, which has limited overseas distribution.
Tufnell added that he would look at potential expansion of shop-in-shops as well as a retail roll-out. The business already has stores in Liverpool and Brighton.
Peter Werth himself will step down from day-to-day management at the brand he founded in 1975, but will act as a consultant to the new management team through a handover period. Summers will remain at the brand as sales director, but is no longer a shareholder.
The acquisition of Peter Werth will raise eyebrows in the young branded fashion sector, which has been hard hit by the consumer downturn and the rise of fast fashion at own-label high street multiples.
USC, Bank and Envy are among those that have reported a sales slump, while retailers such as Ted Baker and French Connection have struggled to maintain their wholesale order levels.
Tufnell said he was not dismissive of difficulties facing the branded sector, but stressed that the future performance of Peter Werth was in the team’s hands.
“We have sales of around £14 million and we are operating in a £20 billion market sector. Our success will be much more about what we do well rather than being related to the market,” he said.
The sale of Peter Werth marks the first major fashion deal of 2008. It is expected to kick off a flurry of deal activity before April, when new tax regulations come into force that will penalise business owners selling their companies.