Mulberry says it can thrive by itself after takeover bid from retail giant falls through

December 18, 2020

The chairman of Somerset-based luxury fashion brand Mulberry today insisted it had a bright future as a standalone business after Mike Ashley’s Fraser Group pulled out of talks to take it over.

Frasers, formerly known as Sports Direct, said last month it was considering a bid for Mulberry – best known for its much-sought-after upscale bags – after increasing its stake from 12.5% to 37%. 

But yesterday it released a statement saying it would not make an offer within six months unless there was a “material change of circumstances”, a rival bid or under agreement with Mulberry’s board.

Mulberry, in line with most upmarket retailers, has had a torrid time over recent years, made even worse by the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit sales in global markets.

But chairman Godfrey Davis came out fighting today, saying: “We continue to make significant progress in building Mulberry as a sustainable global luxury brand, creating value for all our stakeholders.

“This is focused around our omni-channel network and market leading digital platform; increasing our Asian footprint; and a relentless focus on innovation and sustainability, offering our customers beautiful products, made to last in our Somerset factories.”

Founded in 1971 by Somerset-born designer Roger Saul, Mulberry has grown into a major global brand with nearly 50 stores in 25 countries and 55 outlets in the UK, including 19 concessions in John Lewis stores, and 14 in House of Fraser shops.

It still manufactures many of its products at its factory in Chilcompton, south of Bath, and also has a second production site in Bridgwater.

However, sales fell by 29% in the six months to September 26, pushing it into a £2m pre-tax loss. The firm has also closed eight of its stores to cut costs.

Frasers is mulling bids for ailing department store chain Debenhams and parts of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which owns Topshop.


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