Tall Girls Assets Acquired by U.K. Rival

Oct 09, 2009 10:04 PM  By

Long Tall Sally, a U.K-based multichannel merchant of apparel for tall women, has acquired select assets of troubled retailer Tall Girls, including its U.S. Website and 10 Tall Girls stores in Canada.

According to a company release, Long Tall Sally did not buy the U.S. Tall Girls stores. The U.S. Tall Girls Website, www.tallgirlshop.com, has already been closed, with a holding page directing visitors to the Canadian Website.
Chris Kampe, a managing director with investment firm Tully & Holland, says the deal was a distress sale. “Another example of a like concept retailer buying out a similar concept.”

But the deal offers Long Tall Sally–which operates 15-20 stores in the U.K., a catalog, and Website–entry into North America, “which is the interesting part,” he says.

Long Tall Sally is already in the U.S.: It mailed its first U.S. catalog and launched a Website here a year ago. Founded in 1976, Long Tall Sally’s apparel collection is designed for women 5-ft.-8-in. or taller, in sizes 10-20.

What happened to Tall Girls? The retailer “suffered from a lack of identity and lack of investment,” Kampe says. “This niche is better served via online to serve a broader population, rather than merely the immediate retail trading area of its stores,” he adds. “The niche may be too small to work as a brick-and-mortar concept outside of large metropolitan areas.”

What’s more, Tall Girls failed to connect with the shopper on fashion, plus its offerings were priced at a premium, “which was really the single most important factor in its downfall,” Kampe adds. “As the recession kicked in, the consumer dumped the luxury and mid-tier retailers in favor of discounters, off-price, and value retailers.”

Tall Girls became insolvent and announced its intention to restructure in bankruptcy earlier this month, with its restructuring advisor exploring options including the sale of the company. “It is hoped that Long Tall Sally will reinvigorate the fashion and identity of the chains,” Kampe says.