LONDON — Another day, another British retail failure.
On Tuesday, just 24 hours after British Home Stores entered into administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11, men’s wear retailer Austin Reed announced it was also seeking protection from creditors.
Founded by Austin Leonard Reed in 1900, the group also owns women’s wear labels Viyella and Country Casuals. It began making made-to-measure clothing and later moved into men’s ready-to-wear.
The brand has a flagship store on Regent Street and sells through more than 1,000 retail outlets worldwide, with nearly 30 wholesale clients in the U.S.
The company’s new owners, distressed retail experts Alteri Investors, have called in Alix Partners to sell the company. Some 1,200 jobs are said to be at risk, according to press reports.
As part of a turnaround plan set by Alteri, the company had closed about 15 percent of its 200 stores in the past year.
The first Austin Reed branded store was established on Fenchurch Street in London, with a larger flagship store opening in 1911 at 113 Regent Street. In 2011 the brand moved across the road to number 100.
The new store features a dedicated casualwear floor, a 60-foot wall of shirts and two floors of tailoring, including a bespoke service.
The company’s collapse comes amid a gloomy climate for British brick-and-mortar retail, with the unpredictable weather, the advent of online shopping, changing consumer patterns and a struggling men’s formal wear market weighing on many of the country’s high street stalwarts.
On Monday, the struggling BHS collapsed into administration, putting nearly 11,000 jobs at risk, although the government has confirmed that job losses are not imminent.
BHS has 164 stores across the U.K., and 74 franchises in 18 countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Malaysia.
The British press has called the collapse of BHS the U.K.’s biggest retail failure since that of Woolworths in 2008.
On Monday, Harsha Wickremasinghe, an associate at the M&A and debt advisory firm Livingstone Partners, said he believed the BHS business model is at the root of a problem.
“Its relevance to the current market is unclear — in terms of product range, brand appeal and distribution strategy. These structural weaknesses, coupled with soaring rents, high business rates and pension liabilities, alongside the impact of the National Living Wage, gave BHS little room to maneuver. BHS has been a ‘problem child’ of the department store sector for some time, and has simply failed to move with the times,” he said.