Citing the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertain economic outlook, U.K. apparel brand Long Tall Sally is winding down its operations after 44 years in business, Chief Operating Officer Alison Doherty said in a blog post.
The company, which had run stores in the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere, now runs dedicated country-based e-commerce sites and ships globally. The company is not in bankruptcy and is open to finding a buyer, according to its website.
The women's apparel retailer, which caters to consumers 5'8" and taller, also noted that it had closed all its stores in 2018 as competition grew fierce in 2017, and has been operating online-only since. Long Tall Sally aims to continue operating through August, Doherty said.
"Long Tall Sally" was a 1950s rock and roll hit for Little Richard that was later covered by Elvis Presley and the Beatles, among others, making it an indelible cultural specimen by the time a 6-foot tall American woman founded the brand in London in 1975.
Investment firm Amery Capital, which bought the brand in 2005, sold it in 2016 to German e-commerce company TriStyle Mode, which itself is owned by European private equity firm Equistone Partners. In her blog post, Doherty cites those investors' unwillingness to continue the business with the pandemic poised to exacerbate its existing challenges.
Apparel sales growth has ebbed in recent decades amid more relaxed expectations for both work and special events. Long Tall Sally's pivot to online-only could have been a factor, considering the more complicated marketing and higher costs of that channel. Private equity backing has also proven to be problematic for some retailers, especially those in need of turnaround.
"Trading has been incredibly challenging and we've relied heavily on shareholder support to bolster LTS," she wrote. "The very sudden and very profound impact of Covid-19 has further weakened our position. The economic outlook is now too uncertain for our shareholders to continue to support the business, so it's with a very heavy heart that I must tell you we will be winding down Long Tall Sally. Please know we explored every possible avenue to continue trading but the financial impact of the pandemic means the business is no longer sustainable."