LUXURY fashion and homeware retailer Nicole Farhi fell into administration yesterday while part of furniture chain Dwell was rescued by its founder saving 150 jobs.
The collapse of the designer brand group, founded by Farhi in 1982 with her then-partner, French Connection boss Stephen Marks, was said to be facing “increased financial pressures” due to the slump in high street spending.
Its owner, Kelso Place Asset Management, had acquired the company only 18 months ago pledging to invest £15 million in the business.
Administrator Zolfo Cooper said it was already in talks to sell the brand, which has a flagship store in London’s Mayfair, as well as five other standalone outlets and ten concessions in the UK and Ireland, at Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser and Selfridges.
It employs 75 staff across its retail network as well as 44 working at its London headquarters. It also sells wholesale products to other retailers. Zolfo Cooper said in a statement that NF Fashion and NF Acquisitions, the companies behind the brand, would continue to trade while “all possible options for its future”, including a sale of all or parts of the business, are considered.
Peter Saville, partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: “Nicole Farhi is a very powerful retail brand. Unfortunately, as with many other fashion retailers, the decline in high street spend coupled with rising costs has led to increased financial pressures.
“We are already in discussions with a number of interested parties who value the strength of the Nicole Farhi brand.”
Its chief executive Francois Steiner left the business in May.
Meanwhile, the co-founder of upmarket furniture retailer Dwell has kept the ailing company alive by agreeing a deal to rescue a number of stores.
Aamir Ahmad, who founded Dwell with family and friends in 2003 but left last year following its sale to a private equity firm, stepped in after the business went into administration last month, resulting in the closure of 23 stores.
Securing the jobs of around half of Dwell’s 300-strong workforce, the deal with administrator Duff & Phelps will result in the reopening of three outlets in London today as well as in Essex and Manchester.
Talks with other landlords are under way with the hope that additional stores and jobs can be saved. The Dwell online store will also reopen today.
The upmarket retailer, previously majority owned by private equity firm Key Capital Partners, went into administration after it struggled amid sluggish consumer confidence and a weak housing market. Ahmad pledged to do “everything we can to find a solution for customers who have lost out”.