Menswear shop T.M. Lewin to close all UK stores, go online only

LONDON (Reuters) - British shirt shop T.M. Lewin will close all its stores and go online only, its restructurer said on Tuesday, resulting in around 600 redundancies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hammer the high street.

The deal will see 66 stores close as the online business is sold to Torque Brands, an acquisiton arm of Stonebridge Private Equity, in a pre-pack administration.

"We are pleased to have been able to save the online business of this great British retail brand at a time when the High Street is experiencing such difficulties and many brands may disappear completely," said Cameron Gunn, senior partner at restructuring firm ReSolve.

Founded in 1898, the menswear retailer had been bought by private equity firm Stonebridge Capital Partners from Bain Capital in May, with its future uncertain as Britain's coronavirus lockdown closed all non-essential stores from late March until June.

Torque Brands said that T.M. Lewin had not been a viable going concern in its old format, with the business unable to sustain rental agreements.

"With all stores still remaining closed due to social distancing guidelines, our customers have been unable to shop in store for the past 3+ months," a spokeswoman for Torque Brands said.

"This has forced our hands to focus on a radical overhaul of the business model."

Britain's economy shrank by a quarter over March and April. Department store chain Debenhams and fashion brands Oasis and Warehouse are among the well-known British high street businesses to have fallen into financial difficulties during the lockdown.



(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison)