Magazine article Marketing

Aquascutum

Magazine article Marketing

Aquascutum

Article excerpt

The classic clothes brand is in administration and has closed its UK factory, writes Kim Benjamin.

Aquascutum has had little trouble proving its worth on the fashion front. Its clothes have been worn by Sir Winston Churchill, Cary Grant and the Queen, while its trenchcoats are well-known around the world.

It has been a different story financially in recent times, however After racking up losses of pounds 24m in 2008, the brand has struggled to recapture its glory days, despite owner Harold Tillman investing pounds 30m since he acquired the company two and a half years ago, and the appointment of talented designer Joanna Sykes in 2010.

Last month, Aquascutum announced that it was entering administration, and it has since closed its Corby factory. The brand has three stores and 16 concessions in the UK.

Critics have singled out the retailer's marketing and licensing strategies as the main reasons for its collapse. While rival Burberry has thrived by attracting a younger, trendier following and invested in digital channels, Aquascutum, which was founded in 1851, pinned its fortunes on an older demographic that has failed to deliver the necessary returns.

Unlike its competitors, Aquascutum failed to attract favourable PR with celebrities. Moreover, much of the money it generates comes from Asia but it does not own the licensing rights there, having sold them in 2009 to YGM Trading.

Aquascutum is now in talks to sell the global brand rights to YGM Trading, too, and Alan Lewis, owner of another British classic, the overcoat maker Crombie, is also rumoured to be interested. So how might the brand reinvent itself if the sale goes through?

We asked Sarah Baumann, general manager at Atelier London, the fashion, luxury and beauty division of Leo Burnett Group, which works with Westfield and Net-a-Porter, and Shaun Lattin, the former marketing director of Aquascutum, now a consultant.

AQUASCUTUM: THE FIGURES

Incurred losses of pounds 24m in 2008

pounds 30m has been invested in the company since 2009

Its factory was closed last month with the loss of more than 100 jobs

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DIAGNOSIS

TWO INDUSTRY EXPERTS ON HOW AQUASCUTUM MIGHT RECAPTURE FORMER GLORIES

Sarah Baumann, General manager, Atelier London (the fashion, luxury and beauty division of Leo Burnett Group)

Another great British brand collapses, and we are reminded that a quality product does not guarantee survival. Aquascutum's latest autumn and winter collection was shown to great acclaim; its clothes are modern, beautifully tailored and favoured by many over the more obvious appeal of Burberry.

Design is not to blame here.

The sale of Asian licensing rights to YGM in 2009 has proven to be short-sighted; the Asian luxury market continues to thrive. …

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