LONDON — The storied British tailor Gieves & Hawkes is looking to sell its U.K. business, as well as its Greater China operations and licensing agreements, after failing to find a buyer when its parent company Trinity Group went into liquidation last year.
Bloomberg broke the news Wednesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter that advisers this week started to formally solicit bids for the Savile Row brand.
It’s understood that Trinity’s liquidators, which now also own Kent & Curwen and Cerruti, aim to find a buyer for Gieves & Hawkes in the third quarter of 2022. Sources told The Telegraph that there was no definitive deadline for a transaction.
Previously owned by Shandong Ruyi, the company said earlier this year that FTI Consulting and R&H Services have been appointed as joint liquidators to assess the financial position of the group and consider the opportunity of a possible restructuring.
According to Companies House filings, Gieves & Hawkes secured a credit facility last month for an undisclosed sum from restructuring specialist Hilco.
Earlier reports speculated that Marks & Spencer, which bought Jaeger out of insolvency last year, and which has been adding third-party brands to its growing online platform, was exploring how it could incorporate Gieves & Hawkes into its business.
The other potential buyer was the entrepreneur Touker Suleyman, owner of high-street tailoring brand Hawes & Curtis, womenswear label Ghost, and several clothing factories in Turkey, Bulgaria and Georgia, in the former Soviet Union, according to market reports.
Ruyi’s financial woes also caused companies in its portfolio, like Israeli menswear brand Bagir and Japanese apparel firm Renown, to file for bankruptcy protection in 2020. British trenchcoat maker Aquascutum, another of its brands, has ceased trading in the U.K. after closing its Regent Street flagship during the pandemic.
In June 2020, Ruyi Group lost its key backer, the state-owned Jining City Urban Construction [Investment] Co. Ltd., which then promised Ruyi Group a 3.5 billion renminbi, or $495 million, investment.
This led to worsening financial difficulties for the Shandong group. Faced with mounting debt, Ruyi has seen its credit rating downgraded several times by Moody’s.
Once promising to become the “LVMH of China,” the fashion manufacturer embarked on a shopping spree in 2015, including SMCP, Aquascutum and Gieves & Hawkes. In 2018, it offered to acquire Bally for $600 million, but Ruyi never completed the transaction.
Earlier this year, besides putting Trinity Group into liquidation, representatives of Ruyi were removed from the SMCP board, after Ruyi’s Luxembourg-based European TopSoho defaulted on 250 million euros’ worth of bonds, igniting the ire of shareholders like BlackRock and Carlyle, which have united under the name of Glas. Glas owns a 29 percent stake in SMCP and 25 percent of its voting rights following the default.
Last month, a group of lenders, including Lindeman Asia, Lindeman Partners Asset Management, Tor Investment Management and China Everbright Ltd., took over American textile fiber manufacturer Lycra, after Ruyi defaulted on a $400 million loan.
Gieves & Hawkes and FTI Consulting could not be reached for comment at press time.