Jaeger in administration as no buyer is found, but is a pre-pack deal the next step?
After frantic efforts to save it, Jaeger has fallen into administration with no buyer found to rescue a chain that had been a major name on UK high streets for most of its 133 years.
700 jobs are now at risk across its 46 stores, 63 concessions, London HQ and logistics centre. But they are safe in the short term as the stores will continue to trade for now. Joint administrator Peter Savile said that the focus is now to identify “an appropriate route forward and work with all stakeholders to do this.”
Speculation is still high that Edinburgh Woollen Mill will buy the brand itself in a pre-pack deal similar to the way it acquired the Austin Reed and CC brands last year.
In fact, the three brands share similar characteristics with a long history behind them and a classic, mid-to-high-end profile that seemed out of step with the modern consumer before their eventual administration filings.
Not trend-focused enough to appeal to younger consumers, they also found their core older customers were spoilt for choice elsewhere. Trend-focused shoppers could look to a raft of brands from Whistles to Mint Velvet and other department store stalwart brands. Meanwhile those with a more classic outlook could buy their key items at lower prices from chains such as M&S as it refocused on its core ‘Mrs M&S’ customer.
While the administration filing is far from a complete shock, as Jaeger’s troubles were well known and the filing was flagged up well in adavance, it is still signifiant enough to give the industry pause for thought. Despite its woes, Jaeger had seemed to be in a turnaround phase only last autumn when it opened a new London flagship.
And its failure, coming around the same time as that of Agent Provocateur, Jones Bootmaker and Brantano, highlights the challenges for retailers as consumer tastes change, as their favourite buying channels evolve and as their attitude to price hardens.
Glen Tooke of Kantar Worldpanel told Fashion Network late last week that Jaeger had been too addicted to satisfying customers’ love of markdowns that it undermined any attempts to charge full price for its goods.
It was all so different from a decade ago when previous owner Harold Tillman took it in a new direction with the Jaeger London label showing on the London runways and the younger Boutique range (helped by designers who had previously been at defunct label Luella Bartley) giving it an on-trend edge.
Better Capital, the owner that finally threw in the towel this year, acquired it and tried to make it work by returning it to its more classic roots.
It’s likely that the brand itself will continue in some form. Whether that is under Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s control or that of another buyer, it will be interesting to see whether its mix of smart, conservative day and occasion wear still has a place in the fashion world of today.
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