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Ethel Austin reborn as Life & Style

Elaine McPherson, the former owner of Ethel Austin, has secured an injection of funds to launch fashion and homewares chain Life & Style, born from the ashes of the value chain which she rescued from administration for a second time in March.

Textile businessman Suresh Ruia, managing director of Manchester-based textile business Beamfeature which supplies high street retailers in the UK and overseas, has provided a “significant” amount of cash and become a major shareholder in the business.

Life & Style was formed in March after McPherson acquired the trade and assets of value chain Ethel Austin and homewares chain Au Naturale.

The cash injection in to the new business will be used to accelerate the expansion of the new company which consists of 91 former Ethel Austin stores. Mcpherson wants to grow the business to 200 stores over the next two years.

McPherson said: “I have known Suresh for many years as a business contact and admire and respect his way of working. There is a huge amount of synergy between our businesses and I am excited to have such a strong retail visionary joining the team.”

McPherson, formerly head of defunct value chain MK One, which was bought by Icelandic investor Baugur in 2004 for £55m, originally bought Ethel Austin out of administration in May 2008.

It hit the buffers again in February this year after a poor January’s trade and lack of credit lines.

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