Gordon Brothers, the global advisory, restructuring, and investment firm, announced today that it has acquired the global Laura Ashley brand, archives, and related intellectual property from the Laura Ashley group’s UK Administrators.
Laura Ashley, which has about 80 stores in the UK and had a broad licensing program across bedding (Downlite), fabric (Camelot Fabric), gift sets (MerchSource), and other products, filed for administration (bankruptcy) in the UK in March. It signed with IMG Licensing last fall to represent the brand in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China.
Founded in 1953 by husband and wife team Bernard and Laura Ashley, the business grew into a globally recognized retail, wholesale, licensing, and franchising business selling both home furnishings and fashion products. More recently, the brand expanded globally with outposts in markets as varied as South Korea, Ukraine, the United States, and Japan.
Ramez Toubassy, President of Brands for Gordon Brothers, said, “Laura Ashley is a true giant among British lifestyle brands, possessing a unique ability to span geographies, product categories, and price points. We feel humbled and inspired by the responsibility to reignite Mrs. Ashley’s original vision while delivering unique and contemporary products to both long-time followers and new customers from around the world.”
As new owners of the brand, Gordon Brothers will partner with management to evaluate several go-to-market strategies for the business, some of which could include retaining a streamlined portfolio of retail stores in key markets within the U.K. and Ireland. Gordon Brothers intends to place a strong emphasis on building e-commerce, developing more strategic wholesale relationships, and expanding the portfolio of licensees and franchisees globally.
Rob Lewis, the Joint Administrator of several of the Laura Ashley group companies in the UK, stated, “Throughout this process, Gordon Brothers has shown a passion for the Laura Ashley brand and I am delighted that, under their ownership, there will be a real opportunity to grow its profile worldwide.”
“Whilst we have taken an important step forward in securing the sale of the brand, we continue to explore opportunities to reshape the UK store-based retail and manufacturing businesses and are very grateful for the efforts of the entire team at Laura Ashley in helping us with those discussions,” he added.
Robert Russell, UK Head of Restructuring at DLA Piper UK LLP, advised Gordon Brothers on the Laura Ashley brand acquisition transaction.