Edinburgh Woollen Mill to buy Austin Reed brand

Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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THE BRAND and stock of iconic menswear chain Austin Reed has been bought by Scots firm the Edinburgh Woollen Mill – but 1,000 jobs are due to be cut as administrators failed to find a buyer for its stores.

The administrators of Austin Reed, which was set up as a tailor in 1900 and boasts Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill among its former customers, said a buyer had not been found for the store estate, resulting in the closure of 100 shops UK-wide.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill, alongside Sports Direct and entrepreneurs Harold Tillman and Dragon’s Den star Touker Suleyman, owner of Hawes & Curtis, had all expressed interest in taking on all or part of the chain, which also includes womenswear brand CC, formerly known as Country Casuals. But administrators for the group of stores said that they had explored “all possible options for the future of the business”, but had been unable to secure a buyer for the whole of the struggling chain.

The 116-year-old company fell into administration at the end of April, just a day after the collapse of high street giant BHS.

Dumfries and Galloway-based EWM, which was earlier this week linked with a possible acquisition of Midlothian garden centres chain Dobbies – is to take on 28 Austin Reed staff through concessions operating within five Boundary Mills outlets through a newly formed company called AR Operations. Meanwhile, the Austin Reed and Country Casuals brands are to be sold to Border IP Limited, a corporation formed by EWM general secretary June Carruthers this week.

Administrator AlixPartners said no viable offers had been received for the sale of the rest of the business over the past five weeks. It added that all branches of Austin Reed are set to close by the end of June, affecting approximately 1,000 staff in around 120 locations.

Joint administrator Peter Saville said: “We have explored all options to sell the business since our appointment. Despite a significant number of interested parties coming forward it became clear as the process progressed that a viable solution which kept the business whole was not forthcoming. As a result we have made the difficult decision to cease trading and commence a wind-down of the estate.”