Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Luggage brand Antler collapses, most jobs go

UK premium luggage brand Antler has collapsed into administration on the back of international travel having fallen sharply since the onset of the coronavirus crisis.

We reported earlier this month that the brand was in danger and on Tuesday, restructuring firm KPMG said it has been appointed administrator. 

The 106-year old brand has 18 retail stores and one concession, as well as its own webstore, plus a sales deal via Amazon and various wholesale customers in the UK. There are also license deals in Australia and Asia. 

The online operations will continue while the administrators look at options for the brand and presumably try to find a buyer, although that could be difficult given the very weak outlook for international travel over the next year or so.

Antler clearly had plenty of potential before the pandemic struck and it was this potential that led a unit linked to Michael Lewis’s Strandbags company to buy it from turnaround firm Endless for an undisclosed sum earlier this year.

The brand made a loss in its latest year but looked like it could be turned around and the pre-pandemic purchase was clearly spectacularly bad timing.

KPMG has already made 164 of the 199-strong workforce redundant.

"Although the business was trading well prior to the virus outbreak, restrictions imposed at the start of the lockdown period prompted the closure of Antler's retail and wholesale outlets, while the impact on international travel has also significantly affected sales,” KPMG partner and joint administrator Will Wright said.

“With uncertainty over the lifting of travel restrictions placing further financial strain on the business, the directors concluded that they had no option but to appoint administrators.”

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