TM Lewin collapses for the second time in two years Business

Shirt maker TM Lewin collapsed for the second time in less than two years as demand for suits and formal tailoring failed to recover after the pandemic.

The 124-year-old brand has appointed insolvency specialists to Interpath Advisory, putting 49 jobs at risk.

The administrators will now seek buyers for the company or its assets.

TM Lewin was popular with city workers before the pandemic hit, but has had a torrid time since as staff continue to work from home.

Interpath’s Will Wright said a slow return to the office and restrictions on large events and social gatherings had a “serious” impact on sales.

“While social distancing measures were lifted in early 2022, the cumulative impact on business cash flow was such that after exploring options for the business, the decision was made to put the company into administration,” he said.

It comes days after the suit was deemed non-essential by the Office for National Statistics. The rise of working from home and the relaxation of dress codes in the office has led to their removal from the basket of goods that the ONS uses to calculate the consumer price index. During this time, items such as sports bras and veggie sausages were added.

Mr Wright added: “Unfortunately, and despite the significant restructuring of the business at the start of the pandemic which saw it switch to an online model, the impact on this famous British brand has been severe. Our immediate priority is to explore options for the business, including the sale of the business and its assets.

Rival shirtmaker Thomas Pink has also fallen victim to the pandemic, closing its stores and online operations, although its website returned late last year.

Last year, Marks & Spencer decided to cut the number of stores that stock men’s suits following the pandemic drop in office wear. They are now available in less than half of the approximately 250 stores that sell clothing.

TM Lewis was founded in Mayfair in 1898 and is famous for selling the first button down shirt. During World War I it supplied uniforms to the RAF and the British Army and the brand claims to have sold over 70 million shirts in its history.

Before the pandemic, the business had over 150 stores globally, but after the initial Covid shock and lockdown restrictions, it was placed into administration.

Around 600 workers lost their jobs after the company announced it would close its 66 UK stores in June 2020.

Staff criticized the dismissal process at the time after being told they would lose their jobs in two conference calls with less than 30 minutes’ notice.

TM Lewin said he could not afford the rent bill and other costs for his stores, which were forced to close when they first collapsed.

Owner Torque Brands, an investment vehicle for private equity firm Stonebridge, bought the assets, but not the stores, via a pre-pack administration a month after acquiring the retailer from Bain.

Torque was then run by Simba Sleep co-founder James Cox and is backed by former Asda boss Allan Leighton and Paul Taylor, who previously ran Harrods.

He worked with ReSolve advisors on the pre-package deal, which allows a company to get rid of debt.

Unsecured creditors are said to have lost £30m as a result of the administration. The employees at one point owed £1million in unpaid wages, holiday pay and pension arrears.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-17 17:50:17

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