For just over thirty years, the Amanda Wakeley fashion brand was on top of the world. During this time, it boasted clientele including the late Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as former Prime Minister Theresa May. However, such friends in high places weren’t enough to save the brand from the ravages of the pandemic.
Not making the cut
Fashion is a high-stakes industry at the best of times. Fortunes are made and lost, depending on whether a label can tap into the ever-changing tastes of consumers. It’s about more than just heaps of fabric, but unless labels can get enough customers through the door to part with their cash, labels find themselves in the same boat as any struggling business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Amanda Wakeley, the issue was very clear: lockdown restrictions were imposed, resulting in the closure of the brand’s Mayfair shop, reducing footfall and revenue. When you drill down into the specifics, the brand specialised in dresses for parties and weddings – precisely the kind of occasions which were curtailed during the pandemic.
Fewer brides going down the aisle and a drying up of opportunities to party limited demand for the label’s dresses, causing a brand which was otherwise the talk of the town to become practically deserted at the height of the first lockdowns.
Signs of trouble afoot
One of the common signs of businesses in some form of distress is a lack of up-to-date accounts at Companies House. Those with an eye for detail can find out a great deal about a business’ financial health, just by seeing if their accounts are as recent as possible. If you’re looking for a way into the retail sector through brands with the name recognition of Amanda Wakeley, follow the money and the paperwork, and you can suss out that something is afoot before the competition can.
In the case of AW Retail Limited, the official incorporated entity behind the Amanda Wakeley fashion label, accounts which were due in November 2020 are still yet to be published, while a Confirmation Statement has also been overdue for almost two weeks. The latest accessible records suggest Amanda Wakeley’s net liabilities mushroomed over two years, from over £879,000 in 2017 to more than £5.26 million by November 2018.
The amounts owed to creditors almost doubled between 2017-18, but Amanda Wakeley continued to have almost £400,000 in assets both tangible and intangible as of November 2018. Attempts were made in May 2021 to find a buyer, but this failed to produce the desired outcome, resulting in administration proceedings, according to joint administrator Colin Hardman from Smith & Williamson.