Raincoat maker Aquascutum set to be sold for £97m

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 | BUSINESS SALE

Aquascutum, the luxury raincoat maker whose items have been worn by a host of famous faces including the Queen Mother, Margaret Thatcher and Humphrey Bogart - as well as First World War officers - is to be acquired by two buyers for $120 million (£97 million), according to reports.

The clothing company, which started life as a tailors in Mayfair back in 1851, is to be sold by its owner, Hong-Kong-based YGM Trading, which bought it for £15 million in 2012.

In its annual report YGM said “two independent third parties” had paid an initial $5 million for exclusivity rights to Aquascutum in a deal expected to complete by the end of March next year. Shandong Ruyi Group, a Chinese textile firm, is being touted as one of the buyers.

Aquascutum has a rich history but has struggled of late. The firm was saved from administration in 2012 and has seen poor sales in the UK - in the six months to September 30 they fell 16 per cent. While it has concentrated on the Chinese market, it has shut 14 stores there as well as one in Taiwan, although it opened one in Europe.

The business was founded by John Emary, a tailor, who invented and patented the first waterproof wool, which gave Aquascutum its name - it translates from Latin as ‘water shield’. The firm developed its iconic trench coat in 1914, which was designed to be used by the British military. In the 1980s the brand dressed a number of political figures and, in 1996, supplied uniforms to the British Olympic team.

Should Chinese interest in Aquascutum be confirmed, it will be the latest display of interest in British brands. The acquisition would be the latest in a number of China-UK deals, including the £1.4 billion purchase of UK travel website Skyscanner by Ctrip.com and the reported £2 million acquisition of a pub in Buckinghamshire which was visited by then Prime Minister David Cameron and China’s President Xi Jinping in 2015.

Find retail businesses for sale and, for in-depth analysis of China's growing investment in the UK, read our latest Subscriber-only report, Chinese firms winning out by buying UK businesses.


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