Frasers buys Psyche, founder to stay at helm
Ever-acquisitive Frasers Group has bought another company with the purchase of designer fashion retailer Psyche for an undisclosed sum. The company has a 40,000 sq ft shop in Middlesbrough and a webstore and employs 58 people in total. It sells around 200 high-end brands for both adults and kids, including Barbour, DSquared, Belstaff, Boss, Kenzo, Champion, and APC.
It’s only a relatively small acquisition by Frasers’ usual standards and comes as we still wait to hear whether it will clinch a deal to take on Debenhams. But it underlines the group’s focus on snapping up businesses that it believes can help it grow in the years ahead.
It's clear that the motivation behind Psyche boss Steve Cochrane selling to Frasers is the huge pressures fashion retail has faced in recent years.
He's run the business for 38 years but a BBC report said that the operation has been affected by lockdown-driven closures and changing consumer behaviour.
Cochrane, who will now be CEO of Psyche, said that despite turning down a takeover offer in 2017, he’d reconsidered with physical retail "under the cosh” due to online, Brexit and the pandemic.
"In 2017, we were in the ascendant. We were still growing and thinking of opening in Durham. Now with the headwinds we're facing, it will secure the future of all the staff.”
It's unknown whether its new owner will retain the Psyche name long term given that it's a relatively small operation and given that it's expanding its upscale Flannels chain fast.
Cochrane told the BBC that Frasers will carry out an appraisal over the next six to 12 months to decide exactly "where Psyche fits into its retail offer.” He added: "We sit between Flannels and House of Fraser with the brands we sell. Hopefully there will be a space for us. In a couple of years there'll still be a clothes shop on Linthorpe Road, but whether it's called Psyche, who knows.”
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