The reshaping of the embattled value sector began this week with two key deals.
As Retail Week went to press, former MKOne director and shareholder Mark Brafman was close to buying the business.
MKOne went into administration on Wednesday and Deloitte was appointed administrator. It is understood Brafman is keen to buy the entire 170-store business – previously sold by Baugur to Hilco – from the administrator.
Meanwhile, another former MKOne executive, Elaine McPherson, has been active in reinvigorating the value sector, in which retailers including Select, Dolcis and Stead & Simpson have hit the buffers this year.
She has bought value fashion retailer Ethel Austin and homewares company Au Naturale out of administration for undisclosed sums.
McPherson told Retail Week that she was “highly motivated” and “excited” by the prospects for the two retailers after snapping them up last week.
Under her ownership, Ethel Austin and Au Naturale will remain separate businesses, retaining their respective names, but with some “correlation of brands”, said McPherson. She will introduce an Au Naturale capsule range in selected Ethel Austin stores and will overhaul both retailers’ stores and product.
“They are both fabulous businesses with fabulous names,” said McPherson. “I can’t wait to get my arms around them.”
Ethel Austin was acquired by McPherson last Friday for an undisclosed sum – said by sources to be£8 million. The deal safeguards 2,500 jobs and about 260 stores. She also bought 46 Au Naturale stores.
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