Patrick Grant never realized that a discarded copy of the Financial Times would change his life. However, that is exactly what it did.
He was an MBA student, eating his lunch alone at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. While he sat there munching, he was drawn to an ad in the “Businesses for Sale” section of the discarded paper. What business was it? It was the well-known, 200-year-old Savile Row tailor business, Norton & Sons. He always had an interest in clothing, and this opportunity piqued his interest.
Mr Grant completed his EMBA in October 2005 and tied-up the purchase of Norton & Sons in December of the same year.
“The first two years were pretty darn difficult,” he confesses. “We had one tailor and one part-time cutter and I did everything else – the chopping out, trimming, bookkeeping, payroll, marketing, ordering and changing of the light bulbs.
“We tried to go back to doing the simple things very well, but it was slower to turnabout than I expected. However, since we’ve turned the corner it has grown much more rapidly than I had hoped.”
At the end of 2008, Mr Grant decided to reinvest profit in ready-to-wear business E. Tautz, another brand in need of resurrection, and he now manages a team of 12 across both enterprises. “It hasn’t been the most lucrative five years of my life, but certainly the most satisfying” he says.
Five years later, Norton & Sons – once tailor to Edward VII and Winston Churchill – has been restored to financial health and Mr Grant picked up the 2010 Menswear Designer of the Year accolade at the British Fashion Awards for reviving another men’s wear brand, E. Tautz.
Screenshot from Norton & Sons