Crain's Manchester Business - 21-25 December, 2009 - (Page 3)
Crain’s Manchester Business / December 21, 2009 NEWS River Island cottons on to trendsetting Me&Yu designs Fashion label’s deal with major high street retailer boosts fledgling brand’s hopes for a bumper 2010 BY JAMES CHAPELARD Manchester-based fashion label Me&Yu has signed a distribution deal for its men’s T-shirts with high street retailer River Island. They will be stocked at the retailer’s seven biggest stores including London’s Oxford Street, Manchester’s Trafford Centre, Bluewater and Meadowhall and sold on its website. River Island has ordered 800 pieces with a retail value of £20,000 for their winter collection, but Me&Yu is hopeful of further orders for summer collections and womenswear in 2010. It is the first time the fledgling brand has won orders from a major high street multiple. Angie Hulme, who founded the business with partner Gordon Cullmere, said she expects to meet the store’s buyers again early next year. She said: “It’s all come out of nowhere. It’s great for a small brand like ourselves, although it has been quite labour-intensive. “It’s a really good opportunity for us to reach a wider audience. We are a really tiny brand across the UK. If this becomes a regular thing it gives us an opportunity to expand.” River Island, which is owned by the Lewis family, is already stocking three Me&Yu T-shirt designs. Hulme, a finalist in the Crain’s Manchester Business Businesswoman of the Year 2009 competition, said the pieces would retail at £25, similar to River Island’s own T-shirt range. The retailer is stocking the T-shirts alongside four other independent brands this winter. “It’s good for them to be seen to be supporting More News LORD SUGAR HAS LAST WORD ON ‘MOANERS’ The Knutsford-based Forum of Private Business has given a right of reply to government adviser Lord Sugar after it branded him insensitive for dismissing business owners as “moaners”. At a Business Link event in Manchester, Lord Sugar estimated that 85 per cent of those who were refused bank loans had no grounds for complaint and said some that younger business people had been living in a “Disneyworld” of cheap credit. The FPB’s magazine has published an article from Lord Sugar, in which he says: “In my business career, when I found a bank wouldn’t lend to me, I went back to my proposals, took account of what I was being told and reworked my plans to get the finance. The banks proved a good barometer of the advisability of my plans.” FPB chief executive, Phil Orford, said: “I still can’t say I support his views on the credit conditions currently faced by small firms — I think that the problem is much more widespread than he realises.” BLOCK MAY BE WORLD’S TALLEST STUDENT FLATS ‘It’s a really good opportunity for us to reach a wider audience’ ANGIE HULME, ME&YU Manchester architect Hodder & Partners has designed a 106 metre high tower intended for use as student accommodation near the city’s Oxford Road railway station. The proposed scheme, for clients Allied Developments Ltd, would provide 33 floors of student accommodation and an extra floor for use as private flats. If built it will be the tallest student block in the world, beating the current record holder, The Plaza, situated in Leeds. The planned site is a vacant plot at 17 New Wakefield Street. Allied Developments bought the site for £1.8m in September 2008. No planning application has been filed, yet although the scheme is being lined up for a 2012 completion date. independent businesses. They have committed themselves to doing it,” Hulme added. Hulme said Me&Yu’s own margins would be far smaller than mass market T-shirts because of the labourintensive production process at the company’s workshop in Blackpool. A model sports one of Me&Yu’s original T-shirts Handmade She said: “We are probably not going to make as much money as stuff that is made in the Far East because the process is intensive. We have got a good system. If you started talking about orders of 10,000 pieces we would need to expand and get bigger productions facilities, although it would all stay in the UK.” Me&Yu makes handmade and hand-printed skirts, shirts, men’s tops and trousers, as well as jewellery and other accessories. Its designs are regularly worn by northern fashion icon Agyness Deyn and comedian Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh. River Island posted 2008 pre-tax profits of £160.5m, up 5.4 per cent, on the back of sales up 5.3 per cent to £766m. Me&Yu — which has a shop in Afflecks in the Northern Quarter and also sells online — expect sales to increase to £90,000 in 2009, up from £77,472 last year. Maria McGreevy, of fashion retailer Unique Boutique, which stocks Me&Yu products at its Triangle Shopping Centre outlet in Manchester, said small niche brands should stay true to their ethical production techniques once they hit the high street. McGreevy added: “If production stays the same it should not affect their popularity. But if you send it to China to be produced you will alienate customers. But Angie and Gordon will not do that. They live Me&Yu and they will stay true to what they believe in and put their stamp on everything they produce. “It sells really well because they are unique pieces. It’s one of our best selling lines.” COMMENTS? firstname.lastname@example.org LENDER AXES DEALS FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED Cheshire Mortgage Corporation, part of Blemain Group, has become the latest lender to suspend lending to the self-employed. The Manchester-based lender said it has been receiving more applications than anticipated as a result of Beacon Homeloans’ withdrawal from the market. Only clients who are employed or who are in receipt of benefits or pensions will be accepted, and only income from these sources will be accepted. Wanderers sponsor goes under with £60m debt BY SIMON BINNS Land remediation and property development firm Woodford Group Plc, a major sponsor of Bolton Wanderers Football Club, has gone into administration with bank debts of more than £60m. The Manchester office of Deloitte has been appointed to run the firm and managing director Stephen Daubney is “in the Philippines”, according to a member of staff at the company. In a statement of affairs, Boltonbased Woodford Group said it owed £60.3m to HSBC, although the assets in the company — two office buildings and investments in its subsidiaries — would only raise enough to pay back £36.7m. Only £7m is expected to be recoverable for other creditors, which will leave an overall shortfall of £52.4m. Bolton-based accountancy firm Cowgills is among the creditors, owed £30,000. An amount of £122.8m is included in the firm’s summary of assets, which is the total value of the cross-guaranteed debt in the entire Woodford Group, which also had offices and staff in Preston. One of the firms in the group, Woodford Land Ltd, is still trading from Preston, although its registered office was changed to the Manchester office of Deloitte last week. Nobody from Deloitte was willing to comment on either Woodford Group or Woodford Land when contacted by Crain’s, or answer specific questions relating to the group’s liabilities. The group posted a turnover of £72.4m in 2007, with a profit of £2.5m and net assets of £12.9m. Daubney was listed as the only shareholder Three directors currently remain on the board at Woodford Group — Daubney, Jason Parkinson and Ian Bloomfield — but at Woodford Land, Daubney and Parkinson both resigned in August, according to filings at Companies House. Daubney has also cut ties with Golden Ventures, Stephen Daubney is currently “in the Philippines” according to a member of staff at Woodford Group Plc WHAT YOU SAY Will the Northern Quarter suffer if it loses the rag trade? A: Yes, many buildings would remain empty and unused B: No, bars and creative businesses will take over the space a retirement homes business he started in 2007 with £3m of capital. Crain’s was unable to contact Daubney and Parkinson did not return calls. Daubney was included in The Sunday Times Rich List in 2008 with an estimated worth of around £770m. Woodford Group sponsored the South Stand at Bolton Wanderers’ Reebok Stadium. The club did not return calls for comment. Woodford had 17 development sites across the UK, mostly slated for housing developments, in areas such as Stockton and Spennymoor in the North East and at Congleton and Buxton. According to the company’s website, only two of those sites were under offer: a 64-plot 2.4 acre site in Warrington and an 83-plot, 5 acre site in Poulton-le-Fylde. A dozen of the other sites were either awaiting development, subject to remediation or had not yet applied for planning permission. In 2007, Daubney told The Times he preferred bank funding over private equity as it allowed him to retain control of the company. He was quoted as saying: “It’s a good market and these are buoyant times. A lot of institutions are supporting entrepreneurial activity. The northern regions have slightly less pressure than elsewhere in the country.” With hindsight, he appears to have mistimed a move into property development just before the credit crunch sent land values crashing. COMMENTS? email@example.com 50% Say yes and no10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 THIS WEEK’S QUESTION How will the North West's economy be faring this time next year? Vote and post comments at: www.crainsmanchesterbusiness.co.uk
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Crain's Manchester Business - 21-25 December, 2009
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