British fashion brand Nicole Farhi enters administration - but is confident of some form of survival

'Decline in high street spend coupled with rising costs has led to increased financial pressures'

After over 30 years of trading, beleaguered British fashion brand Nicole Farhi has gone into administration. The eponymous designer founded the clothing brand famed for its Mediterranean influenced working wardrobe in 1982 with her then partner Stephen Marks, having enjoyed success designing for his already established brand French Connection.

The pair gradually built an empire of women’s and menswear, accessories and interiors lines that at its Nineties peak also included restaurants in London and New York. Although their marriage had ended by this point, the professional relationship remained strong as the boutique brand reaped the benefits of association with the high street label best known for its FCUK logo-laden designs.

In 2010, French-born Farhi’s relationship with the parent company ended when Marks sold the loss-making label to OpenGate Capital for £5m. Two years later, in January 2012, Kelso Place Asset Management acquired a majority stake in the brand for an un-disclosed sum, retaining Farhi as creative director and pledging to invest £15million into the company’s future. Later that year Central Saint Martins alum and former design director at Aquascutum Joanna Sykes was appointed creative director. Farhi, now Lady Hare through marriage to the playwright David Hare, continued in a more marginal role.

Although the outlook for the brand has been gloomy for some years, it seemed that a certain level of adversity was par for the course, and it has continued to produce collections for both men and women. Indeed Sykes’ most recent collection for men was shown as part of the spring/summer 14 shows in London just last month.

“Nicole Farhi is a very powerful retail brand,” says Peter Saville, partner at Zolfo Cooper the firm appointed to handle the administration, through which the company will continue to trade at its six stores and 10 concessions. “Unfortunately, as with many other fashion retailers, the decline in high street spend coupled with rising costs has led to increased financial pressures on the business.”

However, Saville is confident that this is not the end of the line for the brand, stating: “we are already in discussions with a number of interested parties who value the strength of the brand.”

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