Liberty owner teams up with Jack Wills founder to buy the fashion retailer

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 | BUSINESS SALE

The owner of the Liberty department store in London has teamed up with the founder of Jack Wills to buy the fashion retailer after a multi-million-pound buyout.

The deal will see a number of changes at the top of the company. Peter Williams, founder of Jack Wills, and private equity firm Bluegem become the new joint shareholders. Current Jack Will’s chairman, Lord Mervyn Davies, will step down after previously serving as chief executive of Standard Chartered.

Derek Lovelock, current chairman of retailer Mamas and Papas, will step up as the new chairman, with Mr Williams continuing to serve as chief executive.

Jack Wills was founded in 1999 by Mr Williams and his childhood friend Robert Shaw using a £40,000 investment. It recently suffered over Christmas 2014 after it struggled to meet demand. Issues with its distribution centre as well as outsourcing a lot of the work to a third party were blamed for the problems.

Mr Williams, who returned as chief executive last year after a two-year absence, has since seen a revival of fortune. While the first half of the year saw like-for-like sales fall by 3.9 per cent, the second half of the year has seen a rise of 3.9 per cent. Turnover was also up 4.1 per cent to £137.4 million.

In a statement, Mr Williams said: "The numbers clearly show that momentum has returned and significant results are being delivered. Importantly, this improvement in trading has continued into the first half of the current year.

“The new capital allows us to continue our international expansion and fast-paced revival. Thirteen new stores will open in 2016.”


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