Approaches from China
Edinburgh Woollen Mill considers sale of brands
Austin Reed’s former shop in Perth. The chain collapsed in 2016
Philip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Group is believed to be weighing up the sale of some of its brands after it was approached by several interested buyers.
The interest is said to have been unsolicited, and comes primarily from international strategic investors – including parties based in China – who are interested in British heritage labels because of their appeal abroad. EWM’s brand portfolio includes Jaeger, Peacocks and Austin Reed.
The retail group, whose main business is the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, has appointed advisers to evaluate the bids, according to the trade publication Drapers. It is understood any sale would be on a solvent basis.
EWM acquired the Austin Reed name, its stock and five concessions in Boundary Mill Stores in 2016. It added Jaeger after the premium brand went into administration a year later.
The company, formerly based in the Scottish Borders and now run from Carlisle, has also acquired Jane Norman, Jacques Vert and its Calvetron Brands stablemates, Eastex and Windsmoor. It later bought men’s tailoring supplier Berwin & Berwin out of administration. Last year it acquired Bon Marche.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill was founded by Drew Stevenson in 1946 as the Langholm Dyeing and Finishing Company. Its first shop opened in Edinburgh in 1970.
Mr Day led a management buy-out in 2002 and subsequently embarked on a spree of acquisitions to build a retail empire across the UK.