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Bench brand acquired by US-based investment firm Gordon Brothers

Lauretta Roberts
05 July 2018

US-based investment firm Gordon Brothers has acquired the intellectual property of Manchester-based streetwear brand Bench after its fall into administration this spring.

Boston-based Gordon Brothers has said it will focus on re-establishing the brand's e-commerce presence in Europe and rebuilding its wholesale presence; the future of its 20 UK and 15 German stores is not yet clear.

In North America, Gordon Brothers said it would continue the brand's long-standing partnership with Freemark Apparel Brands Group, who have successfully built the brand into a multi-channel business, through distribution in Bench retail stores, wholesale and e-commerce.

Bench was founded in Manchester in 1989 tapping into the skate and BMX culture of the time and became best known for its branded hoodies. As recently as 2017, the brand had more than 80 Bench branded stores in Europe and North America and an additional 2,000-plus wholesale points of sale.

Bench Limited had been owned by German private equity investor Emeram Capital since 2014, when it bought out Bench’s parent company Americana International. However the brand was hit by the retail downturn, the devaluation of sterling following the Brexit vote and a major logistics issue in 2016, from which it struggled to recover.

The business was placed into administration by BDO Stoy Hayward in April and the following month its IP assets were touted for sale. Gordon Brothers said the brand's recent global reach made it an attractive proposition, saying it was one of the only true streetwear brands of global scale.

"Streetwear has never been hotter than it is today," said Ramez Toubassy, president of Gordon Brothers' brands division. "We are excited to be able to acquire an authentic pioneer in the category and bring our thoroughly modern branding, marketing and business model to bear in reestablishing Bench as a streetwear powerhouse."

The acquisition of the Bench brand follows on from the investment, restructuring and advisory firm's relaunch of the Wet Seal fast fashion retailer as a digitally native e-commerce business. Past investments include Polaroid, Wet Seal, and Bombay & Co. The business has a reputation for its expertise in buying, selling, managing and transforming underperforming consumer brands.

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