Alexon has been bought by private equity firm Sun European Partners as part of a prepack deal after the business fell into administration today.

KPMG - which has been exploring strategic options for the embattled womenswear chain for some weeks – was drafted in as administrator this morning, when Alexon suspended its shares.

Retail Week revealed yesterday that Sun European was the front runner to acquire the business, which has suffered declining sales and profits in the tough trading conditions.

Jane McNally, chief executive of Alexon - which operates the Alexon, Ann Harvey, Dash, Kaliko, Eastex and Minuet brands -will remain in her position under the new owners.

The deal is expected to preserve over 2,700 jobs.

McNally said: “We are extremely pleased to have a new owner which gives our business the more appropriate capital structure that we have been seeking. 

“The capital investment the Sun European Partners affiliate will be making in Alexon as part of this transaction will enable us to invest further in our turnaround strategy which is focused on restructuring our store portfolio, the roll out of new retail environments and further acceleration of our e-commerce business. 

“We will also benefit from their extensive and successful track record in this sector.”

Sun European Partners Principal Paul Daccus said: “Alexon has strong brands which operate in a growing segment of the retail sector and this is an exciting acquisition. 

“The turnaround programme pursued by the business to date has improved performance and returned the business to profitability.  We look forward to partnering with Jane and her management team to build on this progress to achieve sustainable growth and help the company to expand its routes to market, whilst continuing to invest in its market leading brands.”

The Alexon board said it had actively explored all options to address its need for additional funding, but that offers to acquire one or more of the Group’s brands or provide alternative debt financing “failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion in the time available”.

It added: “Following discussions with the Group’s lenders, it became clear that the Group was unable to continue trading as a going concern.”

Will Wright, joint administrator of Alexon and restructuring director at KPMG, said: “Today’s deal draws a line in the sand for Alexon and puts it on a more solid footing for the future. 

“We received a great deal of interest from buyers keen to turn the business’ fortunes around.  We are pleased that the level of buyer interest was enough to avoid a full operational administration via a ‘pre-pack’, securing around 2,700 jobs and protecting precious value.”

Headquartered in Luton, UK, Alexon operates from 990 outlets across the UK and Europe, including stores and concessions.