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Bankrupt British Chain Bets on Digital Rebirth

M&Co is getting a second crack at retail.

The high street British chain is set to re-emerge next month as an online-only retailer.

A report from Britain’s ThisisMoney said the new online platform will begin selling women’s wear collections and also spawn a mobile app.

The budget family-fashion chain collapsed into administration in December for the the second time in as many years. The seller of men’s, women’s and kids’ fashion operated about 180 shops across the U.K.

M&Co was acquired out of administration in February by AK Retail Holdings for an undisclosed sum, but the new owner only bought the nameplate and not any of its stores. That meant all brick-and-mortar operations were shut down and up to 1,900 employees were let go. The previous online business was shut down first, followed by going-out-business sales at the stores before they shut down in April.

Founded in 1834, the Scottish retailer started out as a pawnbroker. It began selling apparel in the 1950’s. The company first entered administration in August 2020 during the pandemic. The McGeoch family bought back the business in a pre-packaged deal with creditors.

AK Retail is 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 women 5’8″ and up, after it fell on hard times during Covid. The company also owns BadRhino, PixieGirl and Bump It Up Maternity.

Among the U.K. bankruptcies in 2020, M&Co and TM Lewin ended up back in administration. In its second bankruptcy, TM Lewin was acquired by Petra Group. Cath Kidston was acquired out of its 2020 bankruptcy by Private Equity Asia, but continuing troubles led to Hilco Capital taking over the retailer. It was put up for sale last June, and was in danger of entering administration for the second time in as many years. The brand escaped that fate when Next Plc acquired the fashion and homewares nameplate for 8.5 million pounds ($10.5 million) this past March.