LONDON — The British high street is looking more and more like a graveyard with a second heritage retailer, men’s wear brand Austin Reed, collapsing into administration just 24 hours after British Home Stores did the same.
Austin Reed, which was founded in 1900, had already been undergoing a turnaround at the hands of distressed retail specialists Alteri Investors. Alteri had recently taken a stake in the company after advising on its turnaround. The fall into administration, Britain’s equivalent of Chapter 11, leaves 1,184 jobs at risk.
The retail brand that decades ago stood shoulder-to-shoulder with British men’s wear greats such as Burberry, Aquascutum and Daks fell victim to a combination of fast-changing consumer habits, the shift to omnichannel retailing and an overarching crisis in the formal suiting arena that has seen men favor fashion-forward, sportier shapes and trans-seasonal fabrics over traditional, tailored investment pieces.
On Tuesday, administrators from Alix Partners, the international business advisory firm, said they were called in by Austin Reed’s directors due to “cash flow difficulties arising from challenging retail market conditions.”
The administrators confirmed that Austin Reed would continue to trade while Alix explores “all possible options” for its future, including a sale of all or parts of the business.
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