Edinburgh Woollen Mill is favourite to buy Jaeger - report
The list of bidders for Jaeger has grown and it looks like Edinburgh Woollen Mill could be in the lead with sources saying its owner’s track record of turning around businesses gives it a strong chance of winning the prize, according to reports.
Jaeger is owned by private equity firm Better Capital, which has battled against tough business conditions for the venerable upscale classic fashion brand since it paid £19.5 million for it five years ago.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill is owned by billionaire Philip Day and in recent years has bought a raft of struggling or failed businesses, including Jaeger peer Austin Reed, and mass-market chains Peacocks and Jane Norman.
Jaeger has spent many decades ricocheting from a classic to a more trend-led positioning and then back again but has not quite found its niche. In recent years it has closed a large number of stores, although its turnaround programme has also seen it starting a smaller-scale store opening programme.
Its last annual accounts showed sales down to £78.4 million and a pre-tax loss of £5.4 million.
Would Philip Day be able to put it on an even keel? That is a difficult question to answer with Jaeger facing a very different market from it heyday decades ago. Today it is just one of a number of higher-priced classic brands having to face the new reality of its core customers becoming more trend-focused and also finding the looks and quality they want at lower price elsewhere.
But Day’s experience could make a difference. The Press Association, which first reported news of Day’s interest, said a source told it that "Edinburgh Woollen Mill has a history of buying troubled retailers and turning them around, and it's one of the more credible bidders for Jaeger.”
However, Day’s company is not the only bidder with former Jaeger owner Harold Tillman also reported to be on the list, as well as Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.
Ashley has been moving more upscale and away from his roots in pile-it-high, sell-it cheap retailing. He has acquired stakes in French Connection and Debenhams and also owns Flannels, as well as having a major stake in the new owner of Agent Provocateur.
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