Jan 16, 2019
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Jack Wills lenders call in advisors as it seeks more funding

Jan 16, 2019

The lenders to youth-focused retailer Jack Wills have reportedly called in advisors as the fashion business seeks a funding injection in the face of continuing tough times in UK retail.

Jack Wills

The lenders, the biggest of which is banking giant HSBC, have appointed accountancy firm EY with Sky News reporting that part of EY’s job will be to negotiate revisions to Jack Wills' borrowing covenants, as well as looking at its wider financing needs.

If the report is correct, it’s a further sign of just how difficult UK physical retail conditions are at present.

The move comes just a a few weeks after Jack Wills received a £20 million funding boost from new and existing shareholders.

The company is controlled by BlueGem Capital Partners, which linked with an unnamed Italian investor to provide the new funding after talks with Searchlight Capital Partners (which owns the Hunter boots brand) had ended.

Jack Wills had a difficult 2018 with Peter Williams being ousted last year, two decades after founding the chain, and the company calling on a new duo to lead a turnaround. Former Debenhams execs Suzanne Harlow and Rob Templeman signed on, the former as CEO and the latter as an advisor.

One of the problems for Jack Wills has been the weakness of the UK currency in the wake of the Brexit referendum and the on-going uncertainty around Britain’s EU exit. The company is planning to source more product in cheaper overseas locations in the future as a result.

But its problems don’t appear to have got in the way of its store expansion plans with four new locations being added to its 90 existing shops this month. Sky News said it had been mulling ways to exit a number of stores last autumn but appears to have shelved that idea for now.

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