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Bridalwear firms unite

BERKERTEX, the bridalwear company which went into receivership three weeks ago, has found a partner.

The company which has clothed thousands of brides since the Thirties was yesterday joined to Baird Textiles in a deal that could save 1,200 jobs. Baird Textiles is a subsidiary of William Baird, the clothing and engineering group.

On paper, the marriage - for an undisclosed sum - is likely to be a happy one: Baird's portfolio of fashion brands includes Brides International and Hilary Morgan, both in the bridalwear market.

However, demographic trends are not promising for bridalwear. The average amount spent on a wedding has risen by 8 per cent to pounds 9,994 over the last year, according to a recent survey. But the number of people of marriageable age is in steady decline. Robert Phillips, a fashion marketing consultant, warned: 'The bridalwear business has been harder hit than most by the recession. Any gains are likely to be long-term.'

The deal also includes the Berkertex dress business and Genesis, a new leisurewear label. Baird Textiles also owns Windsmoor, a fashion label favoured by Norma Major, and a string of other labels sold through 550 shop-in-shop concessions in department stores in the UK and abroad. Baird Textiles reported sales of pounds 420m in 1991.

The aggregate turnover of Berkertex and Genesis was pounds 29m in 1991. Sales this year are running at a rate below this level, following the closure of some concessions and high street shops.

Thirty jobs were saved earlier this month when Berkertex's other business, Fifth Avenue, a mail-order company, was sold.