Marks & Spencer Sells Brooks Brothers for $225 Million

British retailer Marks & Spencer sold the venerable Brooks Brothers clothing chain for $225 million to Casual Corner Group's parent company, Retail Brand Alliance.

Brooks Brothers, challenged in recent years as workplaces relaxed their dress codes, had been up for sale for eight months. It operates about 155 stores in the United States and a host of outlets in Japan.

"We think it is one of the best brands, and that was the reason we wanted it," said Mark Shulman, chief operating officer of Retail Brand Alliance. The privately held company put in a final bid in mid-November and sealed the deal late Thursday night, he said.

The women's clothing retailer Casual Corner Group operates about 1,000 mainly mall-based, moderately priced stores in about 45 states under the names Casual Corner, Petite Sophisticate and August Max, which sells plus-size clothing.

Other bidders had been said to include May Co., Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Men's Wearhouse.

The sale furthered Marks & Spencer's restructuring program as the group focuses on reviving its stores in the United Kingdom. The company is also pulling out of mainland Europe and hopes to sell off its remaining U.S. business, Kings Super Markets, by March.

"Brooks Brothers has a wonderful American heritage and a committed work force, but it was not a good fit with M&S's core business or strategic priorities," David Norgrove, international director for Marks & Spencer, said Friday.

The acquisition of Brooks Brothers was the latest in a string for Retail Brand Alliance. In February, the company purchased the trademark for Adrienne Vittadini, known for its sleek knits in the 1980s, and in July, it purchased Carolee Designs.

Retail Brand is owned by its president and chief executive, Claudio Del Vecchio, whose family controls eyeglass frame maker Luxottica Group.