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30 June 2020 22:31

TM Lewin

All TM Lewin stores to close with 600 jobs lost

TM Lewin has announced plans to close all 66 UK stores, with 600 jobs set to be lost in the process. The iconic menswear brand, famous for its office clothes, is set to go online-only, after admitting its financial woes have been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, Resolve, which has been hired to restructure the business, said: "This acquisition secured the future of the brand at a time of unprecedented uncertainty within the retail sector. "After considerable review, and due to the many issues currently being experienced by high street retailers, it has been determined that the future of the TM Lewin brand will be online-only." TM Lewin, which was founded in 1898, was placed up for sale just a day after the collapse of fashion chains Oasis and Warehouse in May. The shirt-maker's assets have now been bought back by its owner Torque Brands, an investment vehicle for private equity firm Stonebridge, through a pre-pack deal - but not its 66 shops. "This has forced our hands to focus on a radical overhaul of the business model, rebuilding from the ground up in a fashion we deem fit for the years to come," a spokesperson said.

The Torque spokesperson added: "We are committed to selling quality tailoring to a global audience, but crucially in a financially sustainable fashion. About 600 workers will lose their jobs at the century-old shirtmaker TM Lewin, after the high street stalwart went into administration this afternoon. The company is to close all 66 of its physical stores, and will only continue trading online, after a company hired to restructure the menswear company decided its high street offering was beyond saving. Read more: Suits you: TM Lewin bought by private equity firm SCP It comes seven weeks after the 122-year-old retailer was bought by Stonebridge Private Equity through its subsidiary Torque Brands. The new owner said on Tuesday that the entire retail sector faced a "very real threat".

"The Torque team has worked to assess all available avenues for the business model going forwards, but having done so, has formed the view that TM Lewin is no longer a viable going concern in its current format," it said. It added: "The decision to significantly reduce the scale of the business in order to preserve its future will regrettably result in job losses at TM Lewin, as a direct result of the closing of the store network as we right-size the business." TM Lewin is the latest retailer forced to make sweeping job cuts, after shoe seller Clarks said it would cut 700 jobs, Mulberry around 500, while Oasis and Warehouse employed 1,800 people when it entered administration. Companies have struggled with an abrupt shift to online-only models after they were forced to close all of their physical stores amid the coronavirus lockdown in March. "There has been prolonged and significant headwinds against retail businesses, inherent in their models, which have been starkly magnified over the last weeks, a dynamic which is posing a very real threat to the entire sector's future," they said. A firm hired to restructure the menswear company said it was switching all sales to the internet in a bid to save the brand, but would not be able to rescue its estate of 66 shops.

The news comes weeks after the 122-year-old Jermyn Street shirtmaker was bought by Stonebridge Private Equity through its subsidiary Torque Brands. The new owner said that the future of the entire retail sector was facing a "very real threat." "The Torque team has worked to assess all available avenues for the business model going forwards, but having done so, has formed the view that TM Lewin is no longer a viable going concern in its current format," it said. It added: "The decision to significantly reduce the scale of the business in order to preserve its future will regrettably result in job losses at TM Lewin, as a direct result of the closing of the store network as we right-size the business." Cameron Gunn, a partner at restructuring expert Resolve, which was brought in to help the business, said: "We are pleased to have been able to save the online business of this great British retail brand." Shoemaker Clarks has said it will cut 700 jobs, Mulberry plans around 500 cuts, while Oasis and Warehouse employed 1,800 people when it entered administration. Companies have struggled to keep trading as they were forced to close all their shops across the country when lockdown started in late March. Torque said: "With all stores still remaining closed due to social distancing guidelines, our customers have been unable to shop in store for the past three-plus months; this has forced our hands to focus on a radical overhaul of the business model, rebuilding from the ground up in a fashion we deem fit for the years to come." TM Lewin stores will disappear from the high street after it became the latest retailer to collapse into administration at the cost of 600 jobs.

The shirt-maker's assets have been bought back by its owner Torque Brands, an investment vehicle for private equity firm Stonebridge, previously SCP, through a pre-pack deal - but not its 66 shops, The Telegraph can reveal. The move comes a month after Torque acquired the retailer from Bain, the investment firm. The company said it could not afford the rent bill and other costs for its stores, which have all been shut since March. "This has forced our hands to focus on a radical overhaul of the business model, rebuilding from the ground up in a fashion we deem fit for the years to come," a spokesperson said. A long-serving TM Lewin employee said: "What's annoying is that they've blamed it on Covid, which is complete b*******. Another employee said he was "disgusted" by how the redundancy process had been handled, and that its collapse would have a knock-on effect on other suppliers. Torque worked with advisors at ReSolve on the pre-pack deal, where a company jettisons its debts, which was first reported by The Sunday Times. TM Lewin is the latest high street name to go online only. The Torque spokesperson added: "We are committed to selling quality tailoring to a global audience, but crucially in a financially sustainable fashion. "The decision to significantly reduce the scale of the business in order to preserve its future will regrettably result in job losses as a direct result of the closing of the store network as we right-size the business." TM Lewin has collapsed into administration following news that the retailer was eyeing up a pre-pack administration deal. According to the Mail Online, the group cited the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the temporary closure of its stores in March as the main reasons behind the collapse. According to the insider, the following meeting lasted four minutes, and was hosted by CEO James Doyan alongside new owner Torque. It was yesterday reported that the new owner of TM Lewin has called in a restructuring firm as it considered a pre-pack administration deal that could see the closure of a number of its stores. According to The Sunday Times, SCP Private Equity, who acquired the shirt maker earlier this year, appointed restructuring firm ReSolve ahead of a possible pre-pack administration that would lead to the closure around 66 of its stores. SCP had reportedly asked TM Lewin's landlords to agree rent cuts but has now decided to operate the business principally as an online brand. SCP had reportedly acquired the firm as a going concern and planned to maintain its current suppliers. A spokesperson on behalf of Torque Brands said: "The Torque team has worked to assess all available avenues for the business model going forwards, but having done so, has formed the view that T.M. Lewin is no longer a viable going concern in its current format. "The business is unable to sustain current rental agreements for its store network across the country. With all stores still remaining closed due to social distancing guidelines our customers have been unable to shop in store for the past 3+ months; this has forced our hands to focus on a radical overhaul of the business model, rebuilding from the ground up in a fashion we deem fit for the years to come." The spokesperson added: "As such, Torque Brands has acquired certain assets of the business via a pre-pack administration. We are committed to selling quality tailoring to a global audience, but crucially in a financially sustainable fashion. "The decision to significantly reduce the scale of the business in order to preserve its future will regrettably result in job losses at T.M. Lewin, as a direct result of the closing of the store network as we right-size the business.