Would-be buyers show interest in Viyella

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The Independent Online

Women's clothing firm Viyella has attracted "significant" interest from potential buyers, administrators said today.

Viyella, which dates back to 1784, has more than 100 stores and concessions across the UK and employs around 450 staff. It went into administration earlier this month.

Andrew Turpin, of Birmingham-based Poppleton & Appleby, said there had since been significant interest in the company.

"We always felt that Viyella would prove an attractive proposition and we have been very pleased by the level of interest shown in the company," he said.

"We are in detailed negotiations with several potential purchasers and are due to meet with a number of different parties this week.

"It is always difficult to predict the outcome with any certainty but I am confident that we will find a buyer."

The administrators were called in to William Hollins & Company Limited, which trades as Viyella, after the retailer was toppled by the economic downturn.

Mr Turpin said a number of concession outlets have since been closed to allow the design and retail chain to concentrate on its core profitable stores.

He said: "Not only is Viyella a very well-known brand, it is also trusted and respected across the world because of the quality of its products and the company's heritage, which has been reflected in the response of customers who have remained extremely loyal to the brand during the administration."

Viyella's fortunes have changed dramatically since it celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1984.

After a merger with textiles manufacturer Coats Paton in 1986, Coats Viyella manufactured its textiles in China, Mauritius, Vietnam, Turkey, Morocco, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Egypt, Honduras, Romania, Madagascar, Mexico and Brazil.

But in 2003, Coats sold Viyella - and the Jaegar fashion brand - to former Queens Park Rangers chairman Richard Thompson for just £1.

Just weeks later, Mr Thompson sold Viyella to Birmingham-based investment group Harris Watson, which is its current owner, reportedly for £2.5 million.

After the firm fell into administration, Harris Watson said: "Unfortunately the current economic downturn has undone all the efforts of the last five years."