Edinburgh Woollen Mill approached over heritage brands sale
Jaeger and Austin Reed owner Edinburgh Woollen Mill has apparently been approached by several hopeful buyers interested in its heritage brands. But sources said the approaches were unsolicited with the company not having been looking to sell the brands, which are all solvent.
EWM is owned by billionaire Philip Day and includes a wide variety of fashion-linked business at all price ranges, but its heritage brands are at the middle-to-premium end of the price scale.
The approaches are believed to have come from international strategic bidders, including at least one based in China. The various parties jockeying to buy the labels seem to be drawn to the heritage and Britishness of the brands that give them strong appeal around the world. In particular, a very British image is a strong selling point in the giant Asian market.
An adviser has been put in place to assess the bids and provide an indication of company values. But as it’s known that the company hadn’t been looking to sell its basket of brands before the approaches, and with it having laid off only a tiny percentage of its workforce due to the lockdown, it’s likely that any potential buyer would have to come up with an extremely attractive offer to have a chance of buying the labels.
There’s no suggestion that Philip Day is considering the sale of a wider stake in EWM.
EWM has made a speciality of buying up distressed brands to turn them around. The company acquired Austin Reed in 2016 and Jaeger in 2017 after it filed for administration. It has also acquired the basket of brands owned by Calvetron since then (that’s Jacques Vert, Eastex and Windsmoor), as well as Berwin & Berwin.
EWM is one of the biggest privately-held companies in the UK with Philip Day also controlling Peacocks, Bonmarché and Jane Norman.
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