By  on June 23, 2009

LONDON — Liberty of London plans to shutter its Sloane Street store next month after receiving an unsolicited offer from a flush European fashion brand.

The 2,000-square-foot store, which opened last July, stocks Liberty of London-branded accessories, ready-to-wear, stationery and costume jewelry. The unit was the first and only Liberty of London stand-alone store.

Liberty said Monday the offer was unsolicited, and too good to turn down. The new tenant has purchased the lease and also paid Liberty a 700,000 pound, or $1.2 million, cash premium at current exchange. Liberty said it would save 500,000 pounds, or $825,000, annually from the closure.

The northern end of Sloane Street, which is in Knightsbridge and home to stores such as Harvey Nichols, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Alberta Ferretti and Marni, is some of the most sought-after commercial real estate in London. A real estate source here said it is not unusual for companies to sweeten their deals with premiums in order to secure space on the street — even in these tough times.

A Liberty spokesman, who declined to reveal the name of the incoming brand, confirmed the inventory will be transferred to Liberty’s main store near Regent Street, and sold from there. No layoffs are planned and the company was not ruling out the possibility of opening another stand-alone store at some point in the future, he said.

The company said the Liberty of London brand posted “double-digit” sales growth over the past five months and has 100 wholesale accounts worldwide, including Jeffrey, Corso Como and Le Bon Marché.

According to Liberty’s latest financial results, the brand’searnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was a loss of 3.9 million pounds, or $6.4 million at average exchange, in the 12 months to Dec. 31. The loss included one-off costs and the opening of the store.

An industry source said the Sloane Street store had “not been performing brilliantly,” and was being used more as a marketing platform and a shop window for wholesale buyers.

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