Jack Wills founder revives Aubin brand in partnership with Next
Jack Wills founder Peter Williams is returning to fashion with a revival of the "Aubin" brand in partnership with Next.
Next month Williams will launch the brand, formerly known as Albin & Wills, on Next's "Total Platform" with the high street giant taking a 33% stake in the venture.
The former Aubin & Wills brand, which was launched in 2008, had been retired by Jack Wills while it focused on its main brand. It was aimed at an older audience while Jack Wills focused on university students.
It formerly had 12 stores and the new iteration, Aubin, will also have a retail store presence with a site opening in Soho on 7 September when the brand begins selling online.
For the relaunch Peter Williams has pulled in "trusted colleagues and brand guardians to rebuild Aubin for today’s market". Greg Roberts becomes CEO while Rachel Silvester is appointed Creative Director. The launch collection will consist of reinvented classics, designed to last wear-after-wear and never go out of style.
William said: “We’re delighted to be announcing our partnership with Next following a nine-year hiatus of Aubin. From our past experience with the brand, we’ve learnt that our priority is to obsess 24-7 about our target customer and to produce the best possible product we can, always working with specialist craftsmen to modernise classic wardrobe staples.
"Next is the ideal partner for us to collaborate with after the last 18 months of turbulence in the industry, as we are able to not only deliver products that are made to last – in both style and durability – but also ensure our customers benefit from a really world class delivery infrastructure.”
Next CEO Lord Simon Wolfson, added: “We are delighted to be working with Peter Williams and his team to relaunch the Aubin brand. We believe the combination of Aubin’s outstanding design and brand building skills, alongside Next’s Total Platform end-to-end Online infrastructure, can rapidly create an iconic British brand with lasting appeal.”
Williams co-founded Jack Wills in the late 1990s and served two stints as its CEO. He first stood down from the business, which at that time was backed by private equity house Inflexion, in 2013.
In 2016 he returned to the business buying it back from Inflexion in partnership with another private equity house BlueGem. However Williams and BlueGem fell out over strategy in 2018 and he left again.
The business struggled to regain its former glory and was eventually acquired out of administration for £12.7m by Mike Ashley's Frasers Group in August 2019.
This latest move marks another stride into third-party brands by Next which earlier this year took a 25% stake in Reiss (with the option to buy more) with Next chief Simon Wolfson now holding the position of chairman at Reiss.
It also entered into a joint venture last year with L Brands to run the UK arm of lingerie brand Victoria's Secret, including its retail stores and e-commerce business. Next owns 51% of that venture.