Austin Reed chief Hollingworth dismisses talk of takeover bid

Recently appointed Austin Reed chief executive Nick Hollingworth has quelled speculation that the retailer is in play, following stake-building by investment firm Dawnay Day.

'We have had very amicable conversations with them,' said Hollingworth.

He added that taking the business private was 'not on the agenda'.

Over the past few months, Dawnay Day has been bolstering its holding in Austin Reed and, at present, owns 19.8 per cent of the shares.

'We're doing a full review of the business. The board is looking to maximize the performance of the business. While nothing is ruled out on philosophical grounds, my job is to revitalise the business,' said Hollingworth.

Full details of his strategic review will be unveiled in October at the group's interims.

However, Hollingworth revealed he will be looking at the supply chain and merchandising, among other aspects. He also hinted that there could be changes in management.

At its AGM, held last week, Austin Reed blamed disappointing womenswear sales, as well as the slow performance of its Country Casuals fascia, for a drop in like-for-likes. 'The market is not easy, but I think it would be wrong of us to blame the market,' said Hollingworth.

He said the retailer had failed to keep up with the trend for younger fashions among middle-aged women. The revamped Petite brand, now called Minosa, will cater for this trend and could be rolled out to standalone stores.