160-year-old British clothing retailer on 'brink of collapse'

AquascutumAquascutum, the 160-year-old British clothing retailer which has dressed Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother, has been reported to be on the brink of collapse.

Administrators could be called in as soon as Tuesday, jeopardising some 250 jobs, after its owner Harold Tillman sold a majority stake in Jaeger, whose operations are tied in with it.

Mr Tillman bought Aquascutum in 2009 and has invested some £20 million in a fight to turn it around but the Financial Times understands he can no longer afford to support its losses.

Aquascutum was founded in 1851 by tailor John Emary. In its early days it was best known for a style of trenchcoat worn during the First World War.

The business's clothes have been worn by Lady Thatcher, Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant.

Aquascutum's clothes in the UK are sold through 11 high street and outlet stores as well as 20 concessions, including Harrods.

Mr Tillman bought Aquascutum from Japanese trading house Renown in a deal that united it with Jaeger, which he saved from collapse in 2003. The deal saw the rights to the Aquascutum brand in Asia sold to Hong Kong-based YGM Trading.

On Monday Mr Tillman sold a 90% stake in Jaeger and all its secured debt to Better Capital, a private equity firm owned by British venture capitalist Jon Moulton, for £19.5 million.

It is understood that the sale was to protect Jaeger from any fall-out from the collapse of Aquascutum, which is based in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Aquascutum and Jaeger's respected chief executive Belinda Earl recently stood down due to ill health.

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