Harold Tillman steps up legal battle over Jaeger collapse

The former owner of fashion chain Jaeger has escalated his bitter legal battle against Lloyds Bank and one of Britain’s best known financiers.

Harold Tillman, the veteran retail entrepreneur, told The Mail on Sunday he had ‘strengthened’ his claim against Lloyds and Better Capital – the private equity firm set up by City titan Jon Moulton – over the collapse of Jaeger.

The tycoon, who is also the former owner of Aquascutum, said he has hired new lawyers who have amended his case with new evidence.

Harold Tillman (pictured with wife Stephanie) has accused Lloyds of driving Jaeger to the wall

Harold Tillman (pictured with wife Stephanie) has accused Lloyds of driving Jaeger to the wall

Harold Tillman (pictured with wife Stephanie) has accused Lloyds of driving Jaeger to the wall

Tillman has accused Lloyds of driving Jaeger to the wall after it sold the firm’s £16million of debt to Better Capital when he was away on holiday.

He alleges the deal was sprung on his business without warning and that he was not offered the chance to finance the debt himself.

Lloyds and Better Capital maintain there had been a ‘very clear risk’ that Jaeger would fail. 

Jaeger was put into administration shortly after the debt sale to Better Capital. It was then restructured under its new ownership, allowing the fashion brand to continue trading.

Tillman had bought Aquascutum in 2009 and that was also put into administration as Jaeger’s new owners called in debts owed to the brand.

His attack is likely to intensify the long-running row over the demise of his fashion empire in 2012.

According to the legal papers filed by Harcus Parker, Tillman’s lawyers, the main defendants are Lloyds Bank, Better Capital and Jon Moulton himself. However, when contacted by The Mail on Sunday, Moulton said: ‘I am not a defendant.’

Tillman is one of Britain’s best known self-made retail businessmen. He started his career on Savile Row in West London working for luxury tailor Lincroft Kilgour.

Eventually he became the company’s managing director and he then floated the business on the London Stock Exchange, making him a multi-millionaire by the age of 30.

Since then, he has been involved in running several well-known retailers and department store groups, including Allders.

Tillman was also chair of the British Fashion Council – which runs the London Fashion Week – for five years.

Jaeger was put into administration shortly after the debt sale to Better Capital. It was then restructured under its new ownership, allowing the fashion brand to continue trading.

Jaeger was put into administration shortly after the debt sale to Better Capital. It was then restructured under its new ownership, allowing the fashion brand to continue trading.

Jaeger was put into administration shortly after the debt sale to Better Capital. It was then restructured under its new ownership, allowing the fashion brand to continue trading.

He said after his experience of dealing with Lloyds he has been campaigning for legal aid for small business owners that have to deal with banks. Tillman said this was especially important as many entrepreneurs and business owners have recently been forced to take out loans to help their companies survive the Covid-19 crisis.

He added: ‘I think legal aid for small companies should be reintroduced. It would give anybody who suffers to have the funding for lawyers if they lose their livelihood. I want it to be fair for everybody who becomes the victim of the banks’ misbehaviour.’

A spokesman for Lloyds said: ‘While we understand that the failure of the businesses was distressing for Mr Tillman, there is no merit to the allegations he makes against Lloyds Banking Group.

‘It was Jaeger Group which introduced Better Capital to Lloyds Banking Group in early 2012 as a potential investor in the business.

‘At this point the company was under clear financial pressure, having defaulted and also having told the bank that it would not be able to make its upcoming quarterly rental payments.

‘With an associated company receiving a winding-up petition, there was a very clear risk that the business would imminently fail with hundreds of jobs possibly lost as a result.’

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