More than 2,700 retail jobs have been secured today after private investment firm Sun European Partners acquired the upmarket women’s fashion chain Alexon Group.
In a pre-pack administration deal, completed early this afternoon for an undisclosed sum, an affiliated firm of Sun European bought the struggling retailer which has been looking for new ownership for the last few months.
Having offloaded its Bay Trading operation in 2009 when the recession hit the UK, Alexon has been undertaking a turnaround strategy that had led to the business returning to profit in the last financial year.
But the recent downturn, prompted by consumers’ increasingly squeezed budgets caused by a multitude of economic pressures, led the company to call for financial backing in its most recent interim management statement in July.
CEO Jane McNally said today that the arrival of new owners will give Alexon the platform from which to improve the company’s financial performance, grow its operations and focus on further rolling out its fledgling online offering.
“The capital investment the Sun European Partners affiliate will be making in Alexon as part of this transaction will enable us to invest further in our turnaround strategy which is focused on restructuring our store portfolio, the roll out of new retail environments and further acceleration of our e-commerce business,” she explained.
Reflecting on previous work undertaken by the private investor, which also owns sofa business ScS, she added: “We will also benefit from their extensive and successful track record in this sector.”
Alexon hired accountancy firm KPMG earlier this month to help find a buyer, and it appears the retailer’s attractive portfolio generated “a competitive auction process” which led to today’s announcement.
The main priority for the owner of brands such as Ann Harvey, Dash, Eastex and Kaliko will be to find a way of improving profitability in a fast-changing retail landscape, although McNally warned investors in the summer that this year’s year-end results will be severely impacted by poor trading conditions experienced across the UK.
Paul Daccus, Principal of Sun European Partners, called today’s takeover an “exciting acquisition” and argued that the Alexon brands are operating in a growing market sector.
“The turnaround programme pursued by the business to date has improved performance and returned the business to profitability,” he remarked.
“We look forward to partnering with Jane and her management team to build on this progress to achieve sustainable growth and help the company to expand its routes to market, whilst continuing to invest in its market leading brands.”