LONDON — Bidders are beginning to line up outside Aquascutum’s door.
On Tuesday, Crombie, the midmarket British coat and suit brand, said it was interested in Aquascutum’s U.K. and European businesses. It remains unclear, however, whether Aquascutum’s parent, Renown Inc. of Japan, wants to sell the brand piecemeal or as a whole.
Renown put Aquascutum up for sale last year and is in advanced talks with the British brand’s Chinese licensee, YGM Trading Ltd. YGM has signed a letter of intent, and industry sources in London said YGM is conducting due diligence.
Crombie chairman and owner Alan Lewis said Tuesday he is talking to Renown and expects discussions to continue over the next several weeks. Lewis, a karate black belt who in the Eighties and Nineties owned a major British wool textile empire that included firms such as Illingworth Morris, is a multimillionaire based on his property holdings in northern England. Over the last 15 years, he’s built Crombie into a global brand, opening a string of stores in the U.K. and Ireland selling its collections.
“In terms of intentions, what we can achieve with Aquascutum will depend largely on the willingness of Renown, and a more detailed analysis of Aquascutum’s U.K. and European assets and liabilities,” he said. “There is a lot of overlap between the Crombie and Aquascutum brands — so we think it would be a natural fit.”
Renown has declined to comment on the Crombie talks. Last month, Renown rebuffed a management buyout offer from Aquascutum’s former chief executive officer Kim Winser.