Style Group rescue deal completed, Tillman hints at menswear move
Over 1,700 jobs appear to have been saved at Style Group after a group of investors including Harold Tillman mounted a successful rescue bid for the troubled womenswear firm and hinted at a possible move into menswear.
Some 272 redundancies are being made with almost 100 of them at the London head office and at the company’s County Durham warehouses. But that is a smaller number than might have been expected. Seventeen of its 22 standalone stores are not part of the deal and, along with the business in Belgium, will close immediately.
KPMG, which is handling the sale said the firm’s concessions in Britain, Ireland, Canada and the Middle East will continue to trade, saving almost 1,300 UK jobs and almost 450 abroad.
Of the new investors, the best-known is serial entrepreneur, ex-Jaeger owner and former BFC chairman Tillman. Less well-known are entrepreneurs Sundeep Vyas, Haseeb Aziz and Arvind Vij.
They are now in charge of a group that includes Jacques Vert, Precis, Dash, Eastex and Windsmoor and that has struggled in recent years. Style Group has battled on in a middle market that has been squeezed by lower-priced online labels, by department store own-brands and by more on-trend labels like Mint Velvet. They are some of the same pressures that recently undermined Jaeger’s business.
The purchase of the group is believed to have been for a multimillion pound figure, although the actual purchase price has not been disclosed. But the new owners did say they want to boost sales with a new online focus and plan to grow Style’s existing non-UK business.
Style is one of the biggest specialist fashion groups in the UK, The brands were previously owned by private equity investor Sun European Partners. Targeting the 35-plus customer, the management team had undertaken some intensive restructuring work and while some positive noises had been coming out of the firm over the past year, it clearly hadn’t managed to turn around its fortunes and recent months saw KPMG called in to advise on options.
Despite the problems, Tillman said he saw a “significant opportunity” in the takeover. In a newspaper interview at the weekend, he said: “This company is in the right space – the same space as Jaeger. These are premium brands.” He has looked closely at the product ranges and said he could see “a lot of potential. Jacques Vert is sexy and glamorous. Dash is in the ‘athleisure’ market, which is growing significantly, and I also think there is an opportunity to expand it into menswear.”
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