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Li & Fung Buys Gieves & Hawkes

Godfrey Deeny
April 12th, 2012 @ 00:24 AM - Paris

Yet another Western luxury brand has fallen into Chinese hands.

Hong Kong-based conglomerate Li & Fung has acquired tony British fashion brand Gieves & Hawkes, the buyer announced Wednesday, April 11.

Located at No. 1 Savile Row, the most important street of gentlemanly tailoring in Europe, Gieves & Hawkes is a fashion institution, which has supplied suits to David Beckham, Sean Connery to Prince William. It's also the London label where Alexander McQueen learnt the trade of tailoring before enrolling in fashion school Central St Martins.

The purchase was made by Trinity Limited, a division of the Li & Fung Group, which has been on an acquisition binge for the past few years. The Hong Kong based group now controls a half dozen noted European brands including Sonia Rykiel, Robert Clergerie, Hardy Amies, Cerruti and Delvaux.

Trinity already controlled Gieves & Hawkes key foreign license, its Chinese network, which encompasses over 100 stores in China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. Trinity said in a release that it had paid an initial 32.5 million pounds, or $51.8 million at current exchange rates, to gain control. It will also pay the seller, another Hong Kong-based company, Wing Tai Properties Ltd, annual payments over the coming years. Depending on the performance of Gieves & Hawkes in this “earn-out agreement,” the total amount could rise to as much as 60 million pounds, or $95.8 million.

The takeover also means Trinity gains control of 14 Gieves & Hawkes stores in the U.K. and Ireland, as well as its design studio and manufacturing facilities for its bespoke men's business.

Gieves & Hawkes has been headquartered at No. 1 Savile Row since 1912, though the brand was founded back in 1771, when Thomas Hawkes opened a cap store on London’s Brewer Street. Today, Gieves & Hawkes boasts three Royal Warrants as supplier to the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.

Trinity apparently plans to introduce Gieves & Hawkes' bespoke very pricey suits, which cost in excess of 2,500 pounds, or $4,000, into China, in a drive to expand the brand's global reach. Currently these bespoke suits are only available in the U.K.

In the most recent fashion season in London this February, Gieves & Hawkes showed David Hicks’ inspired bold ties and revamped Tommy Nutter cuts, along with deconstructed cashmere jackets sporting patch pockets. Since last year, Gieves & Hawkes has been led by design director and Saint Martins graduate Barry Tulip whose focus on Sixties fashion revivalism appears to be winning a new audience for the esteemed label.

In 2010, the most recent year for which it reported sales figures, Gieves & Hawkes scored sales of 15.6 million pounds, or $24.9 million, though it suffered a loss of 2.5 million pounds, or $4 million.

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