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The Foschini Group sparks row over Joules' sale to NEXT

Sophie Smith
15 December 2022

The Foschini Group (TFG) has written to Joules’ administrators to complain about the way its bid for the high street brand was trumped by NEXT, according to Sky News.

The group, which owns Hobbs and Phase Eight, has written to Interpath Advisory to protest at its decision to sell Joules to NEXT.

According to reports, The Foschini Group had been close to a deal to buy Joules out of administration late last month. However, the following day, Joules was sold to NEXT and the brand's founder Tom Joule.

The deal saw NEXT pay £34 million for the business, as well as £7 million for the current Joules head office building. NEXT now owns 74% of the equity, with the remaining 26% owned by Joule.

As part of the acquisition, NEXT said it will continue to operate around 100 of Joules' 124 stores in the UK and Ireland. Most of its staff will remain with the business and Joules will go live on NEXT's Total Platform in early 2024.

One insider told Sky News that TFG has written to lawyers working on the sale to suggest that they may have acted in breach of rules overseen by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The group is also said to be seeking to recover the costs it incurred on its failed bid to buy Joules.

A spokesperson for joint administrators said: "We stand by the process which was run and reject any notion of unfairness. TFG were granted a period of exclusivity in which they had the opportunity to conclude a transaction. Despite our best efforts, they were unable to do so within this timeframe.

"Thereafter, a materially better offer for the business was received, which the joint administrators concluded represented the best outcome for the company's creditors. In line with their statutory duties, they accepted this offer and went on to conclude the transaction in short order, improving the outcome for creditors and preserving circa 1,400 jobs and over 100 stores."

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