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Exclusive: EWM Group buys Berwin & Berwin out of administration

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group has acquired men’s tailoring supplier Berwin & Berwin out of administration and has committed to securing all 800 jobs, Drapers can reveal.

Tony Wright, Phil Pierce and Russell Cash, partners at business advisory firm FRP Advisory, were appointed joint administrators on 8 February following tough trading at Berwin & Berwin.

Upon appointment, they sold the UK part of the business and its assets to Formal Tailoring 1885 Limited, which is part of the EWM Group.

The acquisition includes its three brands Paul Costelloe, Lambretta and Baumler, 36 menswear concessions and outlets, and all existing stock.

Last month Drapers exclusively revealed that EWM Group was in advanced talks to buy Berwin & Berwin, which had been acquired by an unknown consortium of investors, unrelated to EWM Group.

Following completion of its purchase by EWM Group, Berwin & Berwin will now open a further five menswear concessions in 2018 and its brands will be stocked in EWM Group’s Days Department Stores and other stores within the group.

Berwin & Berwin’s German and Hungarian operations will also be run by EWM Group, which will act as the main operator in a joint venture with unnamed partners. Baumler is based in Berwin & Berwin’s German office, while Berwin & Berwin’s Hungarian operations are home to the company’s factory.

EWM Group said it will protect all jobs and expects to move Berwin & Berwin’s UK head office team into the offices of Jaeger, Austin Reed and Viyella over the coming months.

EWM Group bought Austin Reed, for which Berwin & Berwin was the main supplier, in November 2016. It then bought Jaeger - another business supplied by Berwin & Berwin - in March last year.

The demise of Austin Reed hit Berwin & Berwin hard and resulted in a pre-tax loss of £1.1m for the 12 months to 31 December 2015. Financial results for the following year are yet to be announced.

Berwin & Berwin’s managing director Simon Berwin’s great-grandfather set up the company when he arrived in the north of England more than 131 years ago from Belarus, with his wife, seven children and a sewing machine.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group said: “We recognised the synergies between the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group and Berwin & Berwin’s manufacturing and cutting operations, which have made a name for themselves through their high-quality finish and commitment to detail.

“Across the group, we have always committed ourselves to saving jobs where we can and in the case of Berwin & Berwin no jobs will be lost. We are proud of our record of saving high street brands and always endeavour to provide our customers with the best quality garments at an attractive price point.

“We welcome Berwin & Berwin’s staff into the group and will look forward to continuing to invest in the business over the coming years.”

Joint administrator Pierce added: “Not only does this deal save hundreds of jobs, it ensures the continuity of supply so there is no disruption for customers. Berwin & Berwin produces premium, high-quality products and by working closely with the directors to market the business and its assets for sale, we’ve been able to find a buyer that has strong synergies with the company, and ultimately a solution that delivers a positive result for all parties.”

The acquisition brings the number of stores and concessions that Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group operates to 1,113. The group now employs approximately 24,000 people worldwide.

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