// TM Lewin will permanently shut its entire store estate as it struggles to pay rent on stores
// TM Lewin’s assets have been bought back by its owner Torque Brands, but not its 66 stores
TM Lewin has reportedly said it will permanently shut its entire store estate as it struggles to pay rent and other costs for its stores, which have remained closed since lockdown was implemented in late March.
The collapse into administration has resulted in 600 job losses as TM Lewin stores begin to disappear from the high street.
TM Lewin’s assets have been bought back by its owner Torque Brands, an investment vehicle for private equity firm Stonebridge, through a pre-pack deal – but not its 66 shops, The Telegraph reported.
The move comes a month after Torque acquired the shirt-maker from investment firm Bain.
TM Lewin will continue to trade online, but said it could not afford the rent bill and other costs for its stores.
It has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for its decision to shutter physical stores.
TM Lewin said the pandemic forced it to “focus on a radical overhaul of the business model”.
At least 650 of TM Lewin’s 700 staff had been furloughed under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Torque is led by Simba Sleep co-founder James Cox and is backed by former Asda boss Allan Leighton and Paul Taylor, who previously ran Harrods.
It plans to build a stable of brands that can be rolled out worldwide.
They will all use the same IT, manufacturing and distribution systems to minimise costs.
TM Lewin first warned landlords that stores will shut down if rent cuts are not granted in mid-June.
SCP Private Equity – which bought TM Lewin in May for an undisclosed sum – hired commercial property consultants from Cedar Dean to handle negotiations.
The retailer saw its chief executive Sven Gaede step down from his role during the same week after the company’s sale SCP.
Gaede joined TM Lewin in March 2018, replacing Geoff Quinn, who was at the helm since 1993.