Aquascutum Sold To Chinese Firm For £15m

Failed luxury clothes maker Aquascutum has been sold to Chinese fashion retailer YGM Trading - days after Weetabix went to another Chinese firm.  

The 161-year-old firm that has dressed the Queen and Winston Churchill has changed hands for £15m, making it the second acquisition of a British brand by a Chinese company this month.

The sale comes as cash-rich investors from China are snapping up European firms as the region grapples with a sovereign debt crisis and economic stagnation.

Depressed stock market valuations and a dearth of deal-making capacity among potential buyers closer to home have given Chinese buyers a bargain arena within the EU.

YGM said the Aquascutum acquisition was beneficial to it, given the "substantial" potential for Aquascutum's future development.

New owner YGM Trading is expected to improve marketing of the label in its home and developing markets.

In 1998, YGM was appointed as the key licensee, authorised manufacturer and sole distributor for mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia.

Subsequently in 2009 YGM acquired the intellectual property rights of Aquascutum for most Asian territories.

Chinese consumers have been increasingly enticed by high-end consumer products from Europe and Aquascutum fits into that strategy.

The Chinese government has said it wants the country's companies to acquire top brands as a short cut to global success.

State-owned Bright Food agreed on May 3 to buy a controlling stake in privately held Weetabix , the 80-year-old breakfast cereal maker.

Aquascutum, which also dressed former prime minister Baroness Thatcher, is the latest high-profile fashion name hit by the UK retail downturn.

Hong Kong-listed YGM also distributes men's and ladies' wear under brands including Michel René, Guy Larcohe, Charles Jourdan, Ashworth, and J.Lindeberg.

Other recent high-profile Chinese acquisitions include machinery maker Shandong Heavy Industry Group's deal to take over debt-laden Italian luxury yacht maker Ferretti .