Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has bought Gieves & Hawkes, one of London’s oldest bespoke tailors.
Frasers, which already owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser and designer casual wear chain Flannels, is believed to have acquired the Gieves & Hawkes brand and five UK stores, including the flagship at the heart of UK tailoring. Savile Row, London. It is not clear how many jobs have been saved by the agreement.
Michael Murray, chief executive of Frasers, controlled by Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, said: “We are delighted to have acquired Gieves & Hawkes, securing a long-term future for an iconic 250-year-old brand. This acquisition adds to our portfolio of strategic investments in premium and luxury brands.”
The acquisition is the latest in a long series of acquisitions of troubled companies by Ashley’s retail empire, which recently bought online fast-fashion specialists Missguided and I Saw It First.
Those brands are a world away from Gieves & Hawkes, a tailoring whose roots go back to the late 18th century. The company was put on the market after its owner, Hong Kong-based Trinity, was placed under administration in December 2021.
The company, which has held royal warrants since 1809, has dressed King Charles III, George VI and George V, as well as Princes William and Harry. He also dressed Admiral Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Winston Churchill.
The company moved into a Georgian townhouse at 1 Savile Row, just off Regent Street in central London, after Gieves acquired the Hawkes brand in 1974. Gieves was founded in 1785 and Hawkes in 1771.
Suit manufacturers have had a tough time during the pandemic, as office staff switched to working from home and many formal events, such as weddings, were cancelled.
In its latest published accounts, covering the first year of the Covid pandemic in 2020, Gieves & Hawkes holding company warned that it could not continue as a going concern without finding new backers.The holding company had debts of £23.7m and accounts for the main operating company showed the pandemic caused sales to drop from £11.2m in 2019 to just £3.9m in 2020. The company lost £4.5m after tax during 2020.