The 114-year-old company, Austin Reed Group, will soon be closing down 31 outlets along with shareholders giving them a £3m shot in the arm in a rescue bid to get them out of the clutches of creditors.
Boasting of customers such as Elizabeth Tailor, Winston Churchill and IMF chief Christine Lagarde, the company is looking to sign an agreement with landlords where 35 of its outlets would be paying 20% less rent and 31 outlets would be paying 50% less; although after six months the 31 outlets would be downing shutters. Out of its 232 stores, nearly 70 are likely to be affected by the change.
This contentious restructuring scheme called Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) is based on rigid negotiations where landlords have the choice of either collecting lower rents or going to the trouble of finding new leaseholders.
Recently, several retailers such as Clinton Cards, Fitness First and JJB Sports have refused to holler for the administrators, choosing to totter on by taking refuge in CVAs.
Counting the privately-owned tailoring brand’s Regent Street flagship store in London, 166 outlets will be going along with their normal trading.
A vote is due on February 5 by creditors, mostly comprising landlords, who will decide whether or not to accept Austin Reed’s CVA proposal.
In 2006, chief executive of Austin Reed, Nick Hollingworth, de-listed the company from the stock exchange.
Hollingworth stated: "The decision to close some stores was not taken lightly, but we cannot continue to operate those within our portfolio that are loss-making."
The CVA will be overseen by Rob Harding and Neville Kahn of accountancy firm Deloitte. This follows Austin Reed’s (which owns Country Casuals and Viyella) pretax slump of £1.29m up to January 2014, as per accounts filed by the company.
Kahn explained: "The proposals to landlords are a necessary step to provide a sustainable platform for the business. As with a number of retailers in the current market, the group has a traditional bricks-and-mortar portfolio in an increasingly multi-channel environment."
In contrast to administrations, CVAs are debatable as businesses are allowed to divest themselves of outlets that are unprofitable, while still controlling the company.
But, in this case, Kahn opined that creditors were in support of the tailoring firm.
Austin Reed, is in turn owned by Darius Capital, which is controlled by property tycoons Peter Klimt and Guy Naggar, previously associated with Dawnay Day, the erstwhile investment company. Dawnay Day bought Austin Reed in 2006.