Brooks Brothers UK Goes Into Administration As Lockdowns Bite And We Stop Wearing Suits
The UK division of famous U.S. business wear retailer Brooks Brothers has gone into administration, Bisnow can reveal. The apparel retailer was hit by the dual impact of closures during lockdowns and a lack of demand for its products while people work from home.
Asher Miller and Stephen Katz of David Rubin & Partners were yesterday appointed administrators to Brooks Brothers UK Ltd.
“The reason for my appointment as administrator of the UK company is of course that with the prolonged closure of non-essential retail, despite the directors’ best efforts and regular communications with landlords and local creditors, mounting rent arrears and the problems of the worldwide group have led to the decision to place Brooks Brothers UK Limited into administration,” Miller told Bisnow in an emailed statement.
The company operated from four stores in the UK. Last month the company surrendered the lease on its flagship 11K SF store on Regent Street, which is owned by a joint venture between The Crown Estate and Norges Bank Investment Management.
Miller said that on Monday, when nonessential retail is allowed to reopen in the UK, the administrators will reopen stores at Westfield London and two outlet centres, Bicester Village to the west of London and Icon at the O2 centre in east London, which is managed and partly owned by Crosstree Real Estate.
“We are currently considering the administration strategy and we are reopening the stores in Bicester, Westfield and ICON/O2 on Monday as we have good levels of stock and we be will be exploring the possibility of selling the UK business to an interested party, if the issues surrounding the rights to trade the brand in the UK and obtain future supplies of stock can be resolved internationally,” Miller said.
Brooks Brothers was set up in 1818, and for many years was considered the go-to brand for business folk on the U.S. East Coast. It was struggling before the coronavirus, as business attire became less dressy than the boxy men's suits which were its hallmark, and an attempt to diversify into less formal apparel was not well received in the fashion business. But it still made revenue of $1B in 2019.
The coronavirus was the final straw for the company, however, with the shuttering stores and removal of the need to wear trousers to work, let alone a formal suit. In July the U.S. parent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and in August it was bought for about $325M by the joint venture between Authentic Brands and Simon Property, which has been snapping up failing retail brands for the past two years.
As part of the bankruptcy deal it said it would keep operating about 125 of Brooks Brothers’ 250 U.S. stores, but with no guarantees for the 250 worldwide stores it opened in a period of expansion in the early 2000s.
In the UK, other formal workwear brands have also struggled. Shirt and suit maker T.M. Lewin shut all 66 of its UK stores last June, and Charles Tyrwhitt and Moss Bros. have also been shutting stores.