Laura Ashley will return to the market next year after the company collapsed in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic.,
Gordon Brothers, which acquired the brand in April out of bankruptcy for an undisclosed sum, has signed a licensing agreement with Next plc to reintroduce the Laura Ashley home products online and in stores in the U.K. and in Ireland in the spring.
Next has over 500 stores in the U.K. and Ireland, with an online presence in more than 70 countries.
“Our partnership with Next allows us to embark on an exciting new chapter and relaunch the iconic Laura Ashley brand. Our decision to acquire the brand was based on the global awareness of Laura Ashley and customer affinity for the brand, which will be renewed through this partnership,” said Frank Morton, CEO of international, Gordon Brothers.
Next CEO Simon Wolfson said the decision to acquire Laura Ashley stems from the brand’s “global awareness” and “customer affinity.”
Gordon Brothers plans to expand the brand’s portfolio through licensees and franchisees, bolster its e-commerce presence and add more strategic wholesale and retail partners. The company’s brand division specializes in acquiring globally distressed intellectual property assets and, as brand manager, revitalizing the acquisition through licensing arrangements. At the time of the acquisition, the investment firm said it would work with the brand’s management to evaluate possible go-to-market strategies for the business.
Founded in 1953 by Bernard and Laura Ashley, the lifestyle company was forced to temporarily shut down its entire store fleet to curb the Covid-19 outbreak, and in March filed for insolvency, the U.K. equivalent of bankruptcy in the U.S.