Jobs safe as Baird acquires Berkertex

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The Independent Online
BERKERTEX and Genesis, the women's fashion brands that went into receivership three weeks ago, have been sold to William Baird in a deal that could save the jobs of most of the 1,200 employees.

Baird Textiles, a subsidiary of William Baird, whose brand names include Windsmoor and Brides International, did not disclose the price paid. Berkertex was founded in 1936 and had an annual turnover of pounds 40m.

Nicholas Webster, the chief executive of Baird Textiles, said the company had bought only assets and not taken on borrowings or creditors. The price was 'very competitive'.

The sale included 336 shop-in- shop outlets in the UK, 26 concessions in Spain, Berkertex's flagship store in Bond Street and one in Nottingham. Excluded were 12 free-standing shops that have been closed by the receivers, Touche Ross.

Mr Webster said Baird hoped to maintain as many outlets as possible. 'There are some attractive opportunities for synergy. We are keen to develop and extend the business.'

The Berkertex dress operations and Genesis, a ladies leisurewear brand launched in 1990, will become part of Windsmoor. Berkertex Bridal will become part of Brides International. Mr Webster said there were good prospects for shared overheads.

Berkertex was a good name, but it had not taken advantage of market opportunities. 'We'll endeavour to improve the ranges and have a stronger design input.'

Windsmoor, whose tailored suits are reportedly favoured by Norma Major, the Prime Minister's wife, was trading better this month than earlier in the year, Mr Webster said.

Christopher Morris, a partner at Touche Ross, said he was delighted to have been able to sell the businesses so rapidly and save most of the jobs. 'We are pleased that such long-established British trademarks will continue to be available in UK shops and abroad.'

Earlier this month, Touche Ross sold Berkertex's other company, Fifth Avenue, a leading supplier to the fashion mail order catalogue trade, to its management.

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