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Frasers Group buys Gieves & Hawkes in latest example of its elevation strategy

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Frasers Group has bought Gieves & Hawkes, welcoming the Savile Row tailor to the group on Instagram. 

In a statement, Michael Murray, chief executive of Frasers Group says: “We are delighted to have acquired Gieves & Hawkes, securing a long term future for an iconic 250 year old brand.  This acquisition further adds to our portfolio of strategic investments in luxury and premium brands.”

Gieves & Hawkes has been up for sale since its former owner, Trinity, based in Hong Kong, went into administration last December. 

The company was originally formed from two businesses. Gieves was founded in 1785 and went on to supply the Royal Navy, while Hawkes was founded in 1771 and supply the British Army. In 1974, Gieves bought Hawkes and moved to Hawkes’ No 1 Savile Row address as Gieves & Hawkes.

The London tailoring company, which has dressed members of the Royal Family since 1809 – including, notably, in 1953, Queen Elizabeth II’s boat cloak that was subsequently photographed by Cecil Beaton. It has also counted royal houses around the world and UK prime minister Winston Churchill as a customer. Today it has three Royal Warrants and sells from five shops and online, via its own website and marketplaces including Tmall in China.

Elevation strategy

Its acquisition by Frasers Group fits with a ‘elevation strategy’ that aims to take Frasers upmarket in order to attract premium brands to its stores. In so doing, Frasers has moved away from its roots. The business was founded by Mike Ashley as Sports Direct 40 years ago. But in recent years – starting with the acquisition of House of Fraser in 2018 – it has focused on an elevation strategy, that continues under the leadership of Michael Murray, Ashley’s son-in-law, who took over as chief executive in September. Soon after, Murray told the Financial Times that he intended to have a more focus acquisition strategy. “If it doesn’t fit into sport, premium or luxury or add value to our ecosystem or platform then we won’t be buying it,” he said. 

The Gieves & Hawkes acquisition also chimes with another aspect of the Frasers Group strategy  – buy a number of retailers and brands out of administration in recent years – from House of Fraser to Evans Cycles, Game, Jack Wills, to, earlier this year, Missguided. 

In October, the group offered a further insight into its brand acquisition strategy as it invested in Asos and upped its stake in Hugo Boss. It said that its strategic investment “offer new opportunities” to the companies that it invests in while also “helping to support the long-term future of the existing retail businesses and the many thousands of jobs they sustain”.

It also said: “Frasers Group continues to see opportunities that strengthen Frasers Group’s brand proposition and the recent acquisitions of Studio Retail Limited (with its significant knowledge and experience in consumer credit) and Missguided (with its focus on womenswear and its digital platforms) are examples of its drive to expand and acquire businesses and brands that can strengthen Frasers Group, and the connection to our consumers.”

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