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Travers Smith advises Laura Ashley on the sale of its brand out of administration

Overview

Travers Smith LLP has advised the administrators of noted homeware and fashion retailer Laura Ashley on the sale of its brand to US restructuring and investment firm Gordon Brothers. Gordon Brothers has acquired Laura Ashley's global brand, its archives and related intellectual property out of administration.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Travers Smith had been working with Laura Ashley to explore alternative funding options to provide a solvent solution for the company's turnaround, however the worsening impact of the pandemic across Europe led to the appointment of Rob Lewis and Zelf Hussain of PwC as joint administrators in early March.

The sale of the Laura Ashley brand is the culmination of a complex sale process involving multiple bidders and requiring the consideration of several rapidly developing government-backed schemes. Laura Ashley has continued to trade online during the pandemic and the joint administrators continue to explore options for its UK operations which include its shops, online business and distribution network, and its manufacturing operations.

Concurrent to the sale, Travers Smith also advised the administrators in respect of another member of the Laura Ashley group (Texplan Manufacturing Limited) on its agreement with Alexandra Workwear to manufacture essential products for the NHS response to COVID-19, such as medical scrubs and cubicle curtains. Staff will return from furlough to the Texplan factory in Newtown, Wales to start producing around 3,000 sets of scrubs a week that will support front line health workers.

The Travers Smith team was led by Finance Partner Peter Hughes with support from Senior Associate Natalie Scoones and Associate Kirsty Emery. The wider team included Private Equity & Financial Sponsors Partner Ian Keefe supported by Associates Max Conway and Jessica Cragg, Commercial, IP & Technology Partner Ben Chivers supported by Senior Associate Michael Ross, Employment Partner Adam Wyman, Pensions Partner David James supported by Consultant Charlotte Feld, and Real Estate Senior Counsel Sarah Walker.

Partner Peter Hughes commented "We are pleased to have supported Laura Ashley and its joint administrators in reaching a successful outcome that secures the continuation of the Laura Ashley brand. The Travers Smith team has collaborated to continue providing the complex, cross-practice advice that we are known for despite the challenging and hugely dynamic circumstances as a result of COVID-19."

This is the latest high-profile restructuring and insolvency mandate in the retail and leisure sector for Travers Smith. Previous experience includes advising the Azzurri Group on its acquisition of Pod from its administrators; the joint supervisors of the CVA for Debenhams; and brands including Carpetright, Carluccio's and the operating company of Giraffe Restaurants on their respective CVAs.