Ralph & Russo rescued by US investors - report
Upscale label Ralph & Russo’s administrators have reportedly struck a rescue deal with the US entrepreneurs behind Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV) with an announcement about the “complex” deal said to be imminent.
The couture and ready-to-wear eveningwear and bridal specialist was forced to call in administrators three months ago after the effects of the pandemic devastated its business.
Hope had been fading for any kind of deal with co-founder Tamara Ralph departing in May and news last month that the company was seeking to offload most of the space in its London headquarters.
The rescue deal by the owner of Dressbarn was reported by Sky News, which said that REV is a vehicle set up by Tai Lopez and Alex Mehr. A number of other bidders are said to have been keen to acquire the brand.
It’s unclear exactly what the new owners’ plans are given Tamara Ralph’s exit from the business and the fact that co-founder Michael Russo is also not believed to be involved.
They know a lot about retail, but their experience with businesses such as Dressbarn, Stein Mart, Pier 1, Radioshack, The Book People and FarmersCart is a long way away from the kind of ultra-luxury fashion that sells at an average price of £50,000 per dress.
Ralph & Russo was launched 11 years ago by the two co-founders and attracted investment from real estate entrepreneur Nick Candy and Phones 4 U retail billionaire John Caudwell. More recently, the owner of the La Perla label invested around £40 million in the business in return for a minority stake. Dutch investment company Tennor Holding BV said in 2019 that its stake purchase was “made within the same luxury fashion investment theme as [its] investment in La Perla Global Management [and] covers the funding requirements Ralph & Russo needs to accelerate its existing global growth plans”.
Those plans were ambitious two years ago and seemed eminently realisable as the luxury sector boomed and new stores in luxury hubs seems almost guaranteed to succeed. The label was riding high on a wave of publicity generated by its appearances on red carpets and high-profile patronage, such as Meghan Markle wearing it to announce her engagement to Prince Harry.
But, as with so many other fashion firms, the pandemic exposed the fragility of the business as the gala events and weddings on which it depended were cancelled worldwide.
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