Italian brands MCS, Henry Cotton’s, Marina Yachting default

Emerisque Brands's foray into Italy was short-lived. The London-based private equity firm led by Indian businessman Ajay Khaitan entered the Italian fashion market in 2013, acquiring in turn the MCS sportswear label (formerly Marlboro Classics) and the Industries Sportswear Company (ISC) group, notably the owner of the Marina Yachting and Henry Cotton's labels. Four years later, the three sportswear brands have all been declared bankrupt.


MCS (formerly Marlboro Classics) was sold by the Permira investment fund to Emerisque Brands in 2013 - mcs.com

We learned from various sources that, on 13th October, the Venice court issued a bankruptcy ruling for MCS and ISC, appointing a trustee for each company. A trade-union source said that "in the last two years, the group's debt grew increasingly, up to a total of €60 million, leading to its default."

In 2012, before being sold to Emerisque, ISC generated a revenue of €135 million, and MCS one of nearly €110 million. Afterwards, it seems that the revenue of both companies declined considerably, and neither of them published a financial statement after 2015. Since 2014, they have both made sizeable cuts to their staff. At a meeting with the Italian Economic Development Minister and the unions in March 2017, the holding company for MCS and ISC reported a consolidated revenue of €120 million and a staff of 350 people.

"Several different directors took charge, but no one was able to relaunch the brands, which eventually were badly affected by commercial and financial mismanagement. The shareholders failed to present an investment plan for the last two years!" lamented a trade-union spokesperson.

The situation took a turn for the worse in spring, when several unpaid suppliers asked for their dues, threatening to halt deliveries. Unable to continue production, MCS and ISC filed for receivership in August. The onus was then on Emerisque Brands to present a restructuring and refinancing plan to save its Italian assets.

Initially, the firm pledged to invest €18 million, which in a few months were reduced to €6 million, and eventually fell to zero. The court had no option but to declare bankruptcy.

"This is an extremely awkward time for the group and its employees," told us another trade-union source, who preferred not to give any further detail. The unions still actually hope to be able to save the brands, and asked to be heard by the Minister of Economic Development, to see it may be possible to keep the companies afloat until a buyer can be found.

Emerisque Brands was founded in 2004, as "an investor specialised in the development and growth of fashion labels and retailers," whose objective is to "acquire fashion brands with declining market performance in order to relaunch and strengthen them."

In the last thirteen years, Emerisque invested in a host of international brands, among them Lee Cooper, Hickey Freeman, Hart Schaffner Marx, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Exclusively Misook, Christopher Blue, Palm Beach, Sansabelt and Monarchy.

Ajay Khaitan, the founder and boss of Emerisque, was recently mentioned by the UK press as one of the potential buyers for British labels Oasis, Coast and Warehouse, before their owner, Kaupthing, decided against selling them.

 

Translated by Nicola Mira

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