Americana International on growth drive after funding deal

AMERICANA International, the parent company of the popular Bench fashion brand, has agreed a near £20m funding line as it shapes up for a new era.

The Manchester company, owned by German investor Emeram Capital since February, has refocused Bench around “multi-purpose city clothing”, and is already seeing a good response from fashion buyers in its 26 markets around the world.

Its new £19.6m loan facility with the Manchester office of Allied Irish Bank (GB), will allow Americana to realise Bench’s full potential through e-commerce, retail and wholesale channels.

Interim chief executive Paul Masters said: “It is a really exciting time for the business. We have done a lot of work on the brand to refocus it and the response has been really encouraging. Orders from the US for our new autumn/winter range – the first since the relaunch – are more than double what they were last year.

“We have new ownership and we have also appointed a new chief executive, Bruno Salzer, who currently runs German fashion business Escada and who is a former CEO of Hugo Boss, who is joining us later in the year.”

Mr Masters, who previously worked for sportswear brand Umbro, said the new funding form Allied Irish Bank would help the business navigate some “big working capital spikes”.

“They have been an excellent long term partner for the business. We are a pretty seasonal business and they have come up with a very flexible solution.

“We now have the financial platform in place to pursue our growth plan. The Bench brand celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Its international reach and range of maturities in different markets provide fantastic opportunities for growth, opportunities which the new facility will help unlock.”

Mike Rogers, relationship director with Allied Irish Bank (GB) said: “We have supported Bench as a business since 2007. Our history and familiarity with the business enabled us to structure a flexible facility which matches the working capital needs of Americana.”

Americana employs around 120 people at its base on Ardwick Green, and another 150 at its 18 outlet stores around the country, In Germany, one of its biggest markets it has 10 owned shops and a further 30 franchised.

Mr Master said he would be remaining with the business after Mr Salzer joins in the autumn.

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