Agent Provocateur puts US stores into Chapter 11

Agent Provocateur Inc. on Tuesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, claiming assets between $1 million and $10 million and liabilities between $10 million and $50 million. The company aims to protect its US store leases with the new bankruptcy protection and sell its 12 US stores to Four Marketing, a division of Four Holdings.


 
Four Holdings, which represents brands Stone Island, CP Company and Paul & Shark among others, acquired the UK-based lingerie company in March for $38 million (£31 million), in what Agent Provocateur co-founder Joe Corre described as a “disgrace to British business.”
 
Agent Provocateur went up for sale at the start of the year, catching the attention of Terra Firma Capital partners, former La Senza owner Lion, specialist turnaround investor Endless, French womenswear brand Etam, and eventual buyer Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct. Through Sports Direct, Ashley has a 25% shareholding of Four Holdings.
 
The acquisition in March did not include the lingerie company’s assets in the US, leaving the Agent Provocateur retail locations without an owner and without access to inventory. The lingerie company was prepared to liquidate its assets in a Chapter 7 before it struck a deal with Four Marketing.
 
The UK company began restructuring in November under previous owner, 3i. The investment firm wrote down the brand’s value, citing declining luxury spending, inconsistency in its retail expansion, and accounting issues. The issues resulted in a quick departure from Chairman Chris Woodhouse.

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