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Frasers Backs Off From Hip-Hop Hat Brand

Though the International Monetary Fund warned that the U.K. could be the G7’s only large industrial nation to see negative economic growth this year, companies in the island nation continue to keep calm and carry on.

Frasers sells stake in hat brand Kangol

Frasers Group has inked a deal to sell a majority stake in Kangol to the Bollman Hat Co., which has held the global rights to develop and produce for the brand since 2001. The terms give Bollman a 51 percent equity stake in Kangol as well as the full intellectual property rights. Frasers retains a 49 percent minority interest in on top of distribution in stores including House of Fraser, USC and Sports Direct.

“Bollman has served as stewards of Kangol, by spearheading the evolution of the brand and its DNA,” Bollman CEO Don Rongione said. “We have meticulously set the bar for all other Kangol brand development worldwide.  It will be exciting for us to be able to apply the same standards to developing and distributing additional categories globally.”

Founded in 1938, Kangol became a streetwear fixture in the 1980’s when hip-hop tastemakers turned the brand into a cultural staple. It’s now racked up collabs iwth Supreme, Kith, Junya Watanabe Homme, Mastermind, Stüssy, Alexander Wang and Agnes b.

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Bollman, established in 1868, is 100 percent owned by its staff through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. It also produces for Helen Kaminski, Baily, Betmar, Country Gentleman and Trimmed & Crowned, and operates a private-label division that produces headwear for “prominent designer and retail brands.”

Frasers’s Kangol divestment comes on the heels of an investment stake in N Brown.

M&Co brand gets another chance, but 170 doors will close

After a second bankruptcy in December, M&Co was acquired by AK Retail, the parent company of plus-size retail chain Yours Clothing.

Andrew Killingsworth, the AK in AK Retail and its founder and managing director, previously acquired Long Tall Sally, a brand serving tall women standing 5’8″ and up, in the wake of the label’s pandemic struggles.

In addition to Yours Clothing and Long Tall Sally, Killingsworth also owns BadRhino, PixieGirl and Bump It Up Maternity.

AK Retail only wanted the M&Co nameplate, which means 170 of the company’s stores will close. A Facebook post suggests the shutdowns will begin after the Easter holiday.

Not immediately known is how many people will lose their jobs as M&Co. employed about 2,000 at the time of its collapse. It’s not clear if the company will maintain an e-commerce business.

Nicholas Kirkwood is focusing on green footwear

Developing next generation green footwear manufacturing and material technologies is now what’s firing up the creative juices of designer Nicholas Kirkwood, who recently decided to shut down his 18-year-old namesake shoe brand.

“I launched Nicholas Kirkwood in 2005 with a mission to deliver a dynamic new architectural but still feminine silhouette executed to the highest quality I could achieve,” Kirkwood wrote on his company website, adding that “the brand has run its course, for now.” He’ll move forward by pursuing his “die-hard passion” to “find viable planet-positive solutions for the intensely un-planet-positive footwear industry.” His final collection came in Fall 2022.

Kirkwood seemed to acknowledge that his new focus could be the proverbial pie-in-the-sky vision, but hopes his efforts results in a new brand promoting “a carbon-neutral future.”

JD Sports plans store expansion

JD Sports Fashion Plc laid a store growth plan for the next five years.

The company’s Investor Day presentation last week outlined an expansion strategy for the next half decade, including double-digit gains in revenue, market share and operating margins.

JD earmarked capital expenditure of 500 million pounds to 600 million pounds ($600 million to $720 million) per year, with 50 percent to 60 percent supporting new stores in under-penetrated markets. It plans to open 250 to 300 new JD stores each year. JD Sports also forecasted cash generation from operating activities of 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) per year. The company has about 2,396 locations across the U.K. and Republic of Ireland, Europe, Asia and North America.

“Building on our strong existing position and attractive long-term market dynamics, we see significant growth opportunities ahead by expanding JD internationally, notably in North America and Europe,” JD CEO Régis Schultz said. “We will also be enhancing our omnichannel retail offering, investing in technology and analytics, and leveraging our long-term strategic brand partnerships, to better serve more customers.”