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Jack Wills appoints advisers to assess options, including possible sale

Lauretta Roberts
08 July 2019

Jack Wills has appointed KPMG to assess its future options, including a possible sale, following reports that it has suffered a downturn in trading.

The preppy fashion brand, which is owned by private equity house BlueGem Capital Partners, has released a statement confirming the appointment saying that KPMG would "carry out a review of the business and explore future opportunities. In the meantime, management remains focused on its strategy of new product development, improving margins and driving cost efficiencies, which is already reaping benefits.”

It is understood that the business has been burning through its latest £28m of cash injection from its private equity backers and Italian businessman Giorgio Girondi. BlueGem is reported to be reluctant to inject further funds and, according to The Guardian, the retailer's bank HSBC had applied pressure by threatening to pull the plug.

BlueGem, which also owns department store Liberty and maternity retailer Mamas & Papas, acquired Jack Wills in 2016 in partnership with its founder Peter Williams, who returned to the business having initially left in 2013. However, Williams fell out with BlueGem over strategy last year and was replaced by former Debenhams trading director Suzanne Harlow.

The latest available figures for Jack Wills show that it made pre-tax losses of £29.3m on sales of £139.5m in the year to January 2018. At the time, it said that it had reconfirmed a £25m revolving credit facility, £4m trade finance facility and £1.8m overdraft with HSBC until January 2021.

Following the return of Williams the business had been expanding its retail footprint to more mainstream shopping destinations from its previous heartland of affluent seaside and market towns. It was founded in upmarket coastal town Salcombe in 1999.

To find out more about Jack Wills and read its news archive, visit its in-depth profile page in our master database of fashion, The Intelligence.

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