Austin Reed closing 120 stores by end of June, 1,000 jobs at cost

Austin Reed will be closing 120 stores by the end of June at the cost of approximately 1,000 jobs.

The 116-year-old retailer, which manufactured Winston Churchill’s famous siren suits, went into administration last month – around the same time the department store chain BHS collapsed.

Owners of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill acquired five Austin Reed concessions in the north of England, in addition to buying the Austin Reed and Country Casual brands.

However, despite initially receiving interest from several parties, administrator AlixPartners said there have been “no viable offers” for the entire business.

Austin Reed first store
The first Austin Reed store to open was in Fenchurch Street in 1900.

Peter Saville of AlixPartners said: “We have explored all options to sell the business since our appointment and continued to trade the business with the support of the secured creditors in what is clearly an extremely challenging retail environment.

“Despite a significant number of interested parties coming forward during this period it became clear as the process progressed that a viable solution which kept the business whole was not forthcoming. As a result we have made the difficult decision to cease trading the business and commence a wind-down of the estate.”

Richard Hyman, an independent retail analyst, was quoted by The Financial Times as saying that the collapse of Austin Reed partly boils down to a failure of updating the brand and a oversupplied market.

Austin Reed flagship store on Regent Street in London

“There’s been quite a significant increase in competitive pressure on Austin Reed — M&S menswear is looking better than it has for years, TM Lewin are now much bigger in menswear, and Moss Bros has been turned round,” Hyman told the FT.

“But Austin Reed didn’t help itself — it failed to change perceptions of its brand, and was sluggish when responding to changes in the market,” Hyman added.

The now defunct retailer went public on the London Stock Exchange in 2006 after operating for over a century as a tailoring business in the heart of London.