Each news story about TM Lewin seems to deliver worse news and the latest development is that the menswear retailer is closing all of its shops and becoming online-only. It means the loss of over 600 jobs.
It filed for administration and its assets have already been bought back by its previous owner, Torque Brands, which originally bought the brand from Bain Capital only in May.
At the time, it also bought all of the company’s 66 UK shops, and hopes were high that it would continue to operate many of them. But the new owners quickly said they were focusing more on digital and would only keep a few of the shops open, with talks launched to convince landlords to offer more favorable rent deals.
But the latest development means that TM Lewin, which has a history stretching back to 1898, is now an online-only brand. Its shops have been closed since the lockdown started and won't reopen, with its owners blaming the pandemic for forcing it to radically overhaul the business model. They said the coronavirus crisis means the rent bill and other store costs are no longer affordable and that the brand is being refocused.
In a statement, it said: “The Torque team has worked to assess all available avenues for the business model going forwards, but having done so, has formed the view that TM Lewin is no longer a viable going concern in its current format. The decision to significantly reduce the scale of the business in order to preserve its future will regrettably result in job losses at TM Lewin, as a direct result of the closing of the store network as we right-size the business."
However, a newspaper quoted TM Lewin employees questioning that stance. One told The Telegraph: “What's annoying is that they've blamed it on COVID. You don't buy a company during COVID and then turn around and blame it on COVID for the demise of the brand.”