Outdoor clothing business Hawkshead has been bought out of administration
Outdoor clothing business Hawkshead has been bought out of administration by retail turnaround specialist Vertical Acquisitions.

According to administrators Ernst & Young, the sale last Friday secured all 380 jobs at the Kendal-based business, which has 28 outlets and a mail order arm.

Vertical Acquisitions was set up a year ago to invest in underperforming retailers. Its directors include ex-lawyer Jonathan Seal and former Marks & Spencer manager Stephen Owen.

Hawkshead Retail and its parent company Daffodil Holdings went into administration on Friday and were purchased on the same day. The speed of the deal suggests it was a pre-pack arrangement, when the sale of a company's assets is put in place before an administration order is passed and signed off immediately afterwards.

It is thought that Hawkshead was suffering severe cash flow problems and was unable to pay wages before it went into administration.

Hawkshead's administration was a fresh blow to the creditors of Retail Variations to whom, at the time of Retail Variations' administration at the turn of the year, it owed about£2 million. This figure was disputed by Hawkshead.

Daffodil Holdings acquired Hawkshead in 2003 from Retail Variations, but Retail Variations continued to provide IT, logistics and call centre services to Hawkshead after it sold the business to Daffodil.

Hawkshead was forced to rapidly take the services in-house after Retail Variations went under.

KPMG was appointed in April to lead an inquiry into the collapse of Retail Variations, which affected many small suppliers.