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Insolvent Laura Ashley Finds New Home With Gordon Brothers

Gordon Brothers is building up its brand division, and its newest baby is Laura Ashley.

The restructuring and investment firm, best known for its liquidating ailing companies, said on Wednesday that it has acquired the Laura Ashley brand and related assets, including its intellectual property (IP) for an undisclosed sum.

The company said it plans to partner with the brand’s management to evaluate several go-to-market strategies for the business, which could include a streamlined group of retail stores in key markets in the U.K. and Ireland. “Gordon Brothers intends to place a strong emphasis on building e-commerce, developing more strategic wholesale relationships, and expanding the portfolio of licensees and franchisees globally,” the company said.

“Laura Ashley is a true giant among British lifestyle brands, possessing a unique ability to span geographies, product categories and price points,” Ramez Toubassy, GB’s president of brands, said.

“While we have taken an important step forward in securing the sale of the brand, we continue to explore opportunities to reshape the U.K. store-based retail and manufacturing businesses and are very grateful for the efforts of the entire team at Laura Ashley in helping us with those discussions,” said Rob Lewis, joint administrator of several of the Laura Ashley group firms in the U.K.’s bankruptcy proceeding.

The Laura Ashley brand was founded in 1953 by Bernard and Laura Ashley. The brand is sold globally, in markets that include South Korea, the Ukraine, the U.S. and Japan. The company filed for insolvency, the U.K. equivalent of a bankruptcy in the U.S., last month as the coronavirus pandemic forced a shutdown of its store fleet.

The GB brands division has a special interest in investing in distressed brands or those in need of restructuring. Its first major acquisition was back in 2017 when it acquired the IP of bankrupt Wet Seal. A year later GB acquired British streetwear brand Bench, which it sold earlier this month to Apparel Brands Ltd., a Bench licensee based in Manchester.