After falling into administration, the British form of insolvency, the Oliver Sweeney brand of luxury footwear has been sold to a new British company, McFL Trading, formed by Tim Cooper together with Amery Capital, an investment company set up five years by some important British retail wizards.
Cooper first started out at Bata France in 1982, then in 1985 moved on to Lambert Howarth, where he became managing director in 1993. He left to start OPS in 2000 and the company has become a major importer and distributor of shoes and accessories, with annual sales of £23 million (€27.0m-$37.6m). He is European distributor of Steve Madden.
Amery Capital was founded in 2004 by Maurice Helfgott with the backing of Michael and Maurice Bennett. Its other investments include Long Tall Sally and Retail Profile, as well as a minority stake in Kookai UK. Helfgott was an executive director at Marks & Spencer before he founded Amery Capital. The Bennetts founded Warehouse, which was sold to Freeman’s in 1986. They then founded Oasis Stores in 1991 and built them into a group that they sold in 2002. Phase Eight was their next project, and they sold it to Barclays Capital in 2005.
Sweeney himself launched his brand in 1990, at first with a link-up through Harrods, and established his style as "classic with a twist." Notable customers include Brad Pitt, Will Smith and Noel Gallagher. It has more than 20 employees. One of the distinctive features of its shoes include the Oliver Sweeney Anatomical Last, which is shaped to support the arch of the foot including a little twist to echo the natural shape of the foot.
The first Oliver Sweeney store opened in 2000, and there are now three, two in London and one in Leeds, as well as five concessions in Harvey Nichols stores, plus more than 100 wholesale accounts in the U.K. The company had sales of £6 million (€7.0m-$9.8m) last year, and with the infusion of cash from Amery Capital, it plans to develop its product range for international and direct sales.
The company will continue to sell its shoes online at www.oliversweeney.com. It will keep its three stores and will remain available at important retailers including Harvey Nichols. The label’s founder, Oliver Sweeney, said in a statement that he would continue to design the shoes and the accessories, and noted that it was effects of a stroke that had made it extremely difficult for him to continue to run his company.