Austin Reed appoints AlixPartners as administrators, putting 1,200 jobs at risk - but buyers are already circling

Catherine Neilan
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Grand Opening of the Austin Reed and Viyella Flagship Stores
Austin Reed appointed administrators today (Source: Getty)

Just one day after British stalwart BHS entered administration, another iconic name has been forced to follow suit.

Austin Reed has this morning entered administration, affecting 1,184 staff.

Peter Saville, Kevin Coates and Catherine Williamson, of AlixPartners Services have been appointed joint administrators.

It comes a result of cash flow difficulties arising from challenging retail market conditions, AlixPartners said. The team will continue to trade the group while "exploring all possible options for its future including a sale of all or parts of the business".

Saville said: "Our priority now is to work with all stakeholders and determine the optimum route forward for the business as we continue to serve customers throughout the UK and Ireland.

"Austin Reed is a well-regarded and iconic brand and therefore we are confident that it is an attractive proposition for a range of potential buyers, as such we expect, and welcome, contact from interested third parties.”

The administration covers Austin Reed Limited, Austin Reed Group Limited, ARG (Property) Limited, Country Casuals Limited, Country Casuals Holdings Limited and Darius Capital Limited.

It is thought there are already a handful of potential parties interested in picking up the retailer.

Jaeger parent company Better Capital is one name in the frame. A source added that the private equity firm had cash to make the investment and "the fit with Jaeger is real", but talks had not reached a meaningful stage.

Chief executive Jon Moulton told City A.M. he was "not disinterested" in the business, but declined to comment further.

A pre-pack is also thought to be a likely outcome of the situation.

Alteri Investors, which purchased equity in the ailing company a fortnight ago, recently appointed Alix Partners to run a sales process.

It follows a period of poor performance for the iconic shirt maker, which revealed a £5.4m loss for the year to 31 January last autumn.

City A.M. understands the business has struggled to keep suppliers on board in light of its financial woes.

Yesterday BHS fell into administration, putting more than 10,000 jobs at risk, after the budget chain had notched up £1.3bn in debts.

Although many of the issues affecting BHS were particular to the 88-year-old chain, analysts warned that more fashion retailers could face a similar plight in the face of declining consumer sentiment, with even the likes of Next warning that the year ahead would be as bad as the recession.

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