Cross-border FTI team complete sale of fashion brands

17 April 2023 3 min. read

The sale of Gieves & Hawkes, Kent & Curwen and Cerruti 1881 has been completed, after a year-long administration process. M&A advisors from FTI Consulting in the UK and Hong Kong worked to seal the deal.

Trinity Group is a menswear retail networks in China that introduces, promotes and manages international brands. The Hong Kong-listed firm purchased Gieves & Hawkes in 2012, adding to its pre-existing portfolio of luxury British men’s clothing brands, including Kent & Curwen – purchased in 2008 –  and Cerruti 1881, which it bought in 2010.

The deal for Gieves & Hawkes occurred just months after the Savile Row tailor was reported to have stripped out £1 million in stock. This came after a restructuring process introduced lower-cost ready to wear to its line-up, alongside an overhaul of its IT systems, on the watch of previous owner Wing Tai Properties – another Hong Kong-based firm which had owned the men’s formalwear business since 2002.

Cross-border FTI team complete sale of fashion brands

At the time, Trinity operated over 500 retail outlets across Greater China and elsewhere in south-east Asia and South Korea. However, the pandemic caused a slump in sales from £11.2 million in 2019 to only £3.9 million in 2020. After spiraling debts saw it handed a winding up order in late 2021, the end of its own 10-year tenure as owner of Gieves & Hawk saw Trinity commence its own restructuring. In January 2022, Trinity revealed in filings to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that FTI Consulting and R&H Services had been appointed as joint liquidators to the brand alongside Kent & Curwen, and Cerruti 1881, to assess the financial position of the group.

At the time, The Times reported that the firms were drafted in by Standard Chartered, the company’s lender, after advisory firm RSM had failed to find an outright buyer for the trio of firms. Time eventually ran out for the restructuring efforts, though. Following the liquidation of Trinity – which also lost control to creditors of big names including Lycra Co and SMCP, the France-based owner of Sandro and Maje – the process gave way to an outright sale by July. Undertaken by FTI, the sale was confirmed to include the UK business and Chinese operation licensing agreements of Gieves & Hawkes, Kent & Curwen, and Cerruti 1881, according to sources familiar speaking to Bloomberg.

By November, this saw FTI complete the sale of Gieves & Hawkes to the Frasers Group – a regular purchaser of distressed retailers in the UK. New CEO Michael Murray remarked that securing a long-term future for an iconic 250-year-old brand added “to our portfolio of strategic investments in luxury and premium brands.”

Five months later, FTI has confirmed it has also secured the futures of the Cerruti 1881 and Kent & Curwen brands. The firm was solely responsible for the sale, which saw China-based golf-clothing company Biem.L.Fdlkk Garment purchase the global trademark rights of the two companies. It is reported that the Chinese company paid the equivalent of $62.18 million for the rights of Cerruti 1881, and $41.45 million for Kent & Curwen – and Biem.L.Fdlkk reportedly has strong distribution across shopping malls and airports in China, which could mean a new lease of life for both brands.

Vincent Fok, Asia Head of Corporate Finance & Restructuring, FTI Consulting, commented, “Following the successful sale of Gieves & Hawkes to Frasers Group in November of last year, FTI Consulting was entrusted to find the best suited buyer for luxury fashion brand Cerruti and British designer menswear brand Kent & Curwen. We are pleased to conclude the sale to BIEM.L.FDLKK Garment Company, which not only secures the future of both brands, but increases competitiveness, preserves jobs and provides a platform for growth under new ownership.”