LONDON — Kim Winser, president and chief executive of Aquascutum, wants to ramp up her revival of the British clothing and accessories brand with a management buyout that’s set to take place over the next few months.
According to industry sources here, Winser, who took over the helm of Aquascutum in spring 2006, is eager to take full control of the company, which will likely be put up for sale by its Japanese parent, Renown Inc., soon.
On Tuesday, Renown, which has been struggling with losses and an outdated operating structure, unveiled plans for a company-wide overhaul, including selling Aquascutum and closing 16 loss-making brands. The apparel company owns a total of 62 brands, although Aquascutum is the only global one in its stable.
“Aquascutum is halfway through its relaunch, and the time was right to take it back from Renown. It is a great opportunity for management to get to the heart of the business,” said one London-based industry source, who requested anonymity.
“Management has been working on this for a while, and they are hoping the deal will be done by the year’s end,” the source added.
The source said the deal would not be a leveraged buyout, and would be structured in such a way that it did not leave Aquascutum management exposed to the roller-coaster of the credit markets.
Winser declined to comment.
Meanwhile, a source close to Renown said that a year ago the company hired Daiwa Securities SMBC to help it seek a buyer for Aquascutum. Several companies showed interest, the source said, and Renown began negotiating seriously with one fund, but the talks fizzled.
“Kim Winser is one of the big appealing points with regard to the sale of Aquascutum, and it is understandable that she put herself forward,” the source said.
Renown has owned Aquascutum since 1990, buying the brand because of its strength in the Japanese market. But the parent firm went through a series of on-again, off-again attempts to reenergize the iconic trenchcoat brand, hiring new management, remodeling the Regent Street flagship and tapping new designers. The brand’s growth remained focused on the Far East, however, and the attempts to revitalize the company were ill-fated until it brought Winser on board in 2006.
Winser, who had previously transformed Pringle from a producer of dowdy golfwear into a luxury brand, and who was awarded an Order of the British Empire honor from Queen Elizabeth II for her efforts there, is now presiding over the renaissance she kick-started at Aquascutum.
The company was founded in 1851 and made its name in tailoring and performance fabrics. Winser has capitalized on the brand heritage, building up the outerwear business and expanding women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and accessories.
Last year, she inked licenses with the Italian manufacturer Antichi Pellettieri SpA for footwear and accessories, and with Novaseta, the accessories company owned by Ermenegildo Zegna, to produce ties and scarves.
Winser has introduced a women’s personal tailoring service at the Regent Street flagship store and, together with designers Michael Herz and Graeme Fidler, updated and expanded the company’s fabric offer with technologically advanced textiles and exclusive designs.
Aquascutum’s wholesale accounts include Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Browns and Harrods in Britain, Corso Como and Luisa via Roma in Italy, and Villa Moda in the Middle East.
Sales at the brand’s Regent Street flagship are up 20 percent year-on-year, and 24 percent at Harrods.
The brand’s sales are currently 220 million pounds, or $430 million at current exchange, and Winser has said she plans to more than double them to 450 million pounds, or $886 million, by 2010.
And while Aquascutum has been barreling ahead, its parent has been losing ground to competitors. Industry observers say that Renown is not a nimble company, and has not been able to compete with sharper, more modern operations such as Itochu and Mitsui.
On Tuesday, Renown issued a profit warning for its 2009 results. Consolidated sales have been lowered 3.4 percent from 81.4 billion yen, or $790.3 million, to 78.6 billion yen, or $763.1 million. Net losses will rise from 3.9 billion yen, or $37.9 million, to 4.1 billion yen, or $39.8 million. Dollar figures were converted at an average exchange rate during the period under review.
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)