British retailer Aquascutum is on the brink of administration

 
Kasmira Jefford
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THE upmarket fashion brand Aquascutum, whose British heritage dates back 160 years, is set to fall into the hands of the administrator as soon as today, putting around 250 jobs at risk.

The raincoat maker’s expected collapse comes just a day after its owner Harold Tillman agreed to sell a majority stake in its sister brand Jaeger to private equity firm Better Capital for £19.5m.

Tillman, who bought the heritage brand in September 2009 from Japanese investment firm Renown, recently put Aquascutum up for sale, reportedly hiring Rothschild to handle the process.

The brand lost £10m on sales of £28m in the year to February 2010, despite efforts by Tillman to breathe life back into the business.

It could now be put through a controversial pre-pack administration process in an effort to smooth the path for a sale.

Hong Kong-based YGM Trading, which owns the rights to the Aquascutum name in Asia, is said to have expressed interest in buying the company.

The business was also hit by the recent departure Belinda Earl, Aquascutum’s chief executive for more than two years and a former boss of Debenhams, after she resigned because of ill health.

Aquascutum, which means “watershield” in Latin, dates back to 1853 when tailor John Emary created the first waterproof wool used to supply coats for British Army officers serving in the Crimean War.