Amanda Wakeley in administration after struggling in pandemic
Amanda Wakeley is the latest British fashion business to collapse under the weight of the pressures created by the ongoing pandemic. The company announced that it had gone into administration on Friday with some jobs being cut as a buyer is sought.
The label, trading under the AW Retail Ltd umbrella, has appointed joint administrators with Clare Lloyd and Colin Hardman of Smith & Williamson LLP now having to try to find a new owner for the business.
It’s unclear whether any new owner would be buying a going concern with the administrators saying: “Our principal objective is to maximise realisations for the benefit of creditors. As well as clothing and accessory stock, the business boasts a newly platformed e-commerce site. Amanda Wakeley and a core team of employees continue to support us with our realisation strategy.”
That does suggest some hope that it could continue as an online-only operation, although there also appears to be a risk of its being completely wound up.
Hardman also said that despite an “extensive marketing process, attracting significant interest, and a huge effort from Amanda Wakeley and the company’s staff, it was not possible to find a buyer for the business” pre-administration.
The company is a classic example of the kind of operation that has suffered due to the Covid crisis. Despite its high profile, it was still a relatively small operation and while it targeted affluent customers, its focus on special occasions and eveningwear meant the reasons to buy an Amanda Wakeley dress disappeared almost overnight. The cancellation of weddings, garden parties, red carpets and more were a disaster.
Its Mayfair flagship store and its concessions in upmarket department stores were closed for long periods of time in the past 14 months, although its webstore and premium teleshopping channels were able to trade. The prolonged hiatus periods meant its flagship and concessions closed permanently earlier this year.
The administrators said the firm needed additional working capital in order to proceed with its strategy and that capital wasn't forthcoming.
Wakeley herself said: “During the pre-administration phase, the company’s staff worked tirelessly with me, and Smith & Williamson, to maximise sales and mitigate the impact of insolvency on the company’s creditors. To this core team and those who have worked at Wakeley over the years, thank you. I am also very grateful for the support and expertise of our leading equity investor [AGC Equity Partners] who has been a valuable partner since 2012. To our customers, it is an honour to design for you.”
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