The future of Aquascutum's 300-plus workforce has been plunged into doubt with the launch of a full consultation process between the UK fashion company and its staff.

The initiation of consultation, often the first step towards large-scale redundancies, comes after parent company Renown announced major losses, and amid uncertainty about Aquascutum's future ownership.

Japan-based Renown had named Hong Kong's YGM Trading as its preferred bidder for Aquascutum, but as yet no definitive sale agreement has been signed.

Negotiations with YGM followed the rejection of a management buyout of Aquascutum led by chief executive Kim Winser, who then resigned her post and left the company.

Last week, Renown installed one of its executives, Yukio Ueda, as Aquascutum's new managing director, with a brief to conduct a review of the company structure.

"Mr Ueda has announced this morning the start of a consultation period with the workforce," said Aquascutum yesterday (3 June).

"Details will not be clarified until it is confirmed whether YGM Trading will be pursuing their purchase of the business. It is expected that a first consultation meeting will be held towards the end of June."

Renown recently announced job cuts amounting to 30% of its workforce in Japan after reporting a loss of JPY12.3bn (US$127.3m) for the year to the end of February.