The slump in sales of suits and formalwear during the epidemic pushed TM Luin into administration for the second time in two years.
The 124-year-old company was bought in May 2020 by Torque Brands, an investment vehicle led by James Cox, founder of Simba Slip.
Seven weeks after the business paid 25 million, the new owners sued TM Levin in a pre-pack bankruptcy process that closed 66 of its stores and international operations, resulting in 600 job losses.
At the time, Cox blamed the lockdown effect on store closures and said the brand would follow an online model instead.
The relocation of work from home during the epidemic and the cancellation of social events such as weddings mean that business has failed to recover as demand for formal clothing has declined. TM Luin’s executives say the company has run out of cash. The Office for National Statistics said this week that it would remove suits from the basket of products used to measure inflation.
Founded in London in 1898, TM Lewin is famous for selling the first button-up shirts. During World War I, it supplied uniforms to the RAF and Army, and the brand claimed to have sold more than 70 million shirts.
A recent administration report on its pre-pack deal found that £ 30.4 million had been left out of the pockets of unsecured creditors, but said that Torque would return about 79 percent of its money as secured creditors. Even then the employees owed 1 million.
Will Wright, head of restructuring Interpath Advisory, a firm derived from KPMG, said: “Men’s clothing – and especially formalware – is one of the most vulnerable segments of the retail sector.” Administrators now want to sell the business. TM Lewin’s previous suitors include Nick Wheeler, founder of rival brand Charles Tyrewit.