Wednesday, 13 May 2020

TM Lewin sold to group seeking to build British brand portfolio




Menswear retailer TM Lewin has been bought from Bain capital by SCP Private Equity with the latter aiming to use it as the starting point for a portfolio of typically British brands that will sell well internationally.

Its new purchase will now be operated under the umbrella of Torque Brands, which is a newly created vehicle seeking to buy more British labels that have global appeal. And given the crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, there should be plenty of opportunities to do this in the months and years ahead.

The brand was bought for an undisclosed sum with Torque founder and chairman James Cox saying that “we plan to build on the great work done by Bain and continue to globalize the business.”

Cox led the purchase of upscale slipper brand Mahabis out of administration last year and is also known for his founding of the mattress group Simba Sleep. He also said that TM Lewin's high level of online sales was a key attraction. While the company is viewed as a traditional menswear firm, it hasn't been slow in adapting to the modern world and around 30% of its £120 million in annual sales are made online. 

There’s an interesting group of investors involved in the purchase with partners including Allan Leighton, the former Asda boss who currently chairs the Co-operative Group as well as C&A. Also on board is ex-Harrods managing director Paul Taylor.

Heritage brand TM Lewin operates 66 UK stores and five in Australia, the UK locations currently being closed due to the coronavirus with most of the group’s staff being paid through the UK governments’ furlough scheme.

And most of those workers must be feeling optimistic at present as, unlike some recent brand purchases, the new owner has acquired the complete store estate, plus its full workforce, and is retaining the firm’s management.

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