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Austin Reed Stores Will Disappear From the High Street

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Austin Reed

It’s the end of a retailing era.

More than 1,000 jobs will be lost in June when Austin Reed, the 116-year-old British retailer known for its tailoring, shutters 120 of its stores in the U.K. and Ireland.

The retailer entered administration (the U.K.’s version of Chapter 11) in April, but while AR Operations is said to have bought five concessions and Border IP Ltd. picked up the Austin Reed and Country Casual brands, a viable buyer for the rest of the business could not be found.

“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,” Peter Saville, joint administrator at AlixPartners, said in a statement. “As a result we have made the difficult decision to cease trading the business and commence a wind-down of the estate.”

The Austin Reed website has already stopped accepting new orders.

AlixPartners reportedly secured a sale for the lease of the retailer’s flagship store on Regent Street in London and it has hired agency GCW to help sell the rest of the portfolio.

News of the retailer’s demise has followed years of falling sales. It lasted traded on the London Stock Exchange in 2006, when it was taken private by an investment firm for 49 million pounds (now worth about $71 million), and it was forced to close 31 underperforming stores in 2015.

Attention now turns to department store chain BHS, which fell into administration at the same time as Austin Reed and is currently undergoing a parliamentary investigation. An announcement about a rescue deal is expected this week.

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