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2012 April 17

Aquascutum In Administration, Risks Shuttering

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(NEW YORK) The venerable British brand Aquascutum entered administration today, putting the company in jeopardy of going out of business and extinguishing 250 jobs in the process. Now on the brink of bankruptcy (administration is similar to filing for Chapter 11 in the U.S.), Aquascutum's precarious financial state of late is due to "challenging conditions in the U.K.," according to a company statement, which has "unfortunately meant that the team has been unable to successfully turn the business around..." Since 2009, the 161-year-old label, rife with heritage and known in part for its trenches, has been owned by Harold Tillman and helmed by CEO Belinda Earl. The duo purchased it from Japanese company Renown Inc. in 1990. Earlier this year, Earl decamped from her position due to health reasons

Prior to swooping in at chez Aquascutum three years ago, Tillman and Earl came to the rescue, albeit a short-lived one at that, of fellow Brit brand Jaeger. Founded in 1884, rendered irrelevant over the years, Jaeger made a temporary comeback and drew comparisons to Burberry a few years ago, after Tillman and Earl entered the picture in 2003. Yesterday, Tillman sold the majority stake of Jaeger to Better Capital, purportedly to buffer Jaeger against Aquascutum's incipient downfall. As for the Aquascutum's most critical gaffe, WSJ posits that overlooking Asia could be to blame for the brand's dire straits of late since the brand had to relinquish its licensing in Asia to YGM Trading, a Hong Kong company, in 2009. 

Upon snapping up Aquascutum, Tillman and Earl were contending with a brand reporting losses of roughly $38.6 million in 2008. The company's shareholders invested approximately $48.3 million to bring the company out of the red. Currently, the brand operates two standalone locations, in London and Windsor, 16 in-store concessions in the U.K., plus 11 concessions and seven outlet stores internationally. British restructuring and recovery firm FRP Advisory LLP has been appointed to fiscally salvage the brand, with the firm's partners, Phil Armstrong and Geoff Rowley, serving as joint administrators for the endeavor.

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