Harold Tillman one of the driving forces who helped put British dress fashion on the map, once controlled an empire which included the household brands of Jaeger, Aquascutum and Allders: by 2012 they had all been lost.(1)
Tillman’s woes began when he bought Honobilt from Austin Read in 1990, which he later floated on the stock market. However, as he later confessed, he had left the running of the business to others, and not taken due diligence; the result was the company went into receivership and Tillman’s being banned, by the Department of Trade and Industry, from being a company director for three years.
By 2003 Tillman had bought and revived Jaeger’s, and Today six years’ later it was announced that the Company had bought Aquascutum (Latin for Watershield), the outdoor garments maker. He was reported as having ‘great plans for the, future’.(2)
Aquascutum was founded in 1851 by Brian Emary who had invented the waterproofing of wool, and became popular among the military in the Crimean War, and later competed with Burberry, to produce the officers’ trench coat worn in two world wars.
The Company’s flagship store was in London’s Regent Street and was supplied from its factory in Corby.
Jaeger had been founded by a Dr. Tomalin, as the Sanitary Clothing Company, which believed material from animals was the best for health.
However Jaeger’s was in financial trouble by the time of the acquisition, and put into administration with debts called in before, according to Tillman, the company could be restructured. The outcome was that in 2011, Jaeger was acquired by Private Equity Company, British Capital.
According to Tillman Lloyds’ Bank ‘stole from him’ by selling the debts to Better Capital. Lloyds’ responded by saying that Jaeger had introduced the bank to Better Capital, as there was a risk the business could fail.
Aquascutum was later disposed of in April 2012 to YGM Trading, a Chinese Fashion retailer.
Tillman’s third attempt at success involved Allders which had been founded in 1862 by Joshua Allder in Croydon. The company had acquired bankrupt Maples in 1997, but had trouble with its integration; saw its share price crash, which resulted in the main company being broken-up, and going into Administration in 2005.
Tillman stepped in to buy the remaining Allder’s Store in Croyden, once the Company’s flagship, which at one time was the largest British store after Selfridge and Harrods; its carpet department being the largest in Europe. However this itself went into Administration on 16th June 2012, closing on 22nd September 2012.(3)
Thus once thriving household names: Maples, Waring and Gillow and Allders were no more, and a sad day for all the employees in factory and shop.
(1) Starting as an apprentice tailor, by 1969 was at 24 the youngest ever to float a company, Lincroft Kilgour, on the stock market.
(2) Reported in the London Evening Standard dated 9.9. 2009 by Chris. Blackhurst.
(3) It survived until 17.1.2013 when the brand ceased after which it was liquidated and sold off. Tillman said the riots of the time, didn’t help. Efforts were made to sell the brands of Allders, Waring and Gillow, and Maples.
Ref: thisismoney.co.uk/interview with Tillman 5.3.2014by James Salmon.
Ref: independent.co.uk/news/James Thompson Wed 9.9.2009.
Next post looks at Shakespeare.