herald

Friday 15 December 2017

460 jobs safe as investors buy Awear

THE jobs of 460 workers at Awear have been secured after the company was bought for the second time in five months.

The clothing chain, which lists models such as Sarah Morrissey on its books, was placed in receivership this week but was purchased by a group of international investors.

Old owners Hilco said the "funding of escalating losses was no longer acceptable".

A receiver was appointed to the fashion giant on Wednesday night by Hilco, but an agreement was reached yesterday for the investors to step in.

The move protects the 460 full and part-time staff at the business's 32 stores in the Republic.

The terms and conditions of the employees will remain the same, and all stores will remain open and trading as usual.

Hilco blamed the decision to sell the loss-making company on the rent policies of NAMA and the Department of Finance.

"Although we have found landlords, including NAMA-borrowers, to be extremely helpful to Awear as an indigenous retail chain, I fear that the recent pronouncements from NAMA and the finance department do not go far enough to prevent a wholesale departure of quality, international retail from the Irish market," said Paul McGowan, chief executive of the Hilco Group in Europe.

Positive

British businessman Michael Flacks of Flacks Group, who heads up the team of investors, said the move is a very positive development for Awear, its workers and customers.

"My colleagues and I are here to develop and grow this business, not shrink it," he said.

Dublin firm Key Capital advised the Flacks on the deal.

Mr Flacks said there was excellent potential to work with home-grown Irish designers, to develop the online side of the business and grow the brand internationally.

Awear began trading in the early 1960s, when Brown Thomas Group bought a fashion store in Limerick called Gaywear. Further stores were established across the country.

They evolved into the Awear brand in 1985.

Flacks Group is a privately held international investment group specialising in distressed retail and real estate assets.

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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