Minority shareholder buys Jeanswest out of administration

Australian apparel chain Jeanswest has been bought out of administration by Harbour Guidance Pty Ltd, an Australian subsidiary of Harbour Guide Ltd, a Hong Kong company owned by Chun Fan Yeung and his family interests.

Yeung is a minority shareholder in Howsea Ltd, the previous parent company of Jeanswest.

The sale is expected to be completed in mid-March and could include up to 106 stores, according to a statement from the voluntary administrators from KPMG, Peter Gothard and James Stewart, which was circulated on Tuesday.

It is conditional on landlords agreeing to revised lease terms with Harbour Guidance.

“This is a great result for all parties,” Stewart said, with the deal expected to save the jobs of up to 680 Jeanswest employees.

George Yeung, managing director of Harbour Guidance, said the company was committed to growing the Jeanswest brand as an omnichannel business and continuing to serve customers around the country.

“The acquisition of [the] Jeanswest business will present an opportunity to rejuvenate this iconic brand well known to the Australian community,” he said.

Founded in 1972, Jeanswest rose to prominence on its “fits best” promise. Before appointing voluntary administrators last month, it had 146 stores and employed nearly 1,000 people.

The brand blamed its demise on tough market conditions and the shift to online, but some industry experts said the business had simply failed to remain relevant, fresh or interesting. It had been struggling financially for several years, according to media reports.

According to the administrators, Jeanswest owed creditors $50 million, including $2.6 million to employees. Stewart acknowledged the “resilience” of the Jeanswest staff throughout the administration process.

The sale price was not disclosed.


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