KPMG has sold Jack Wills, the upmarket British fashion retailer, out of administration to companies controlled by Sports Direct, the high street empire owned by Mike Ashley, in a deal valued at £12.7m
Will Wright and Chris Pole from KPMG’s restructuring practice were appointed joint administrators to Jack Wills Ltd, Wills Lifestyle Holdings Ltd and Union Lifestyle Ltd on 5 August.
Over the last 20 years, Jack Wills has grown to become one of the UK’s most well-known lifestyle brands, with approximately 100 stores across the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore and US. The company also has six franchised stores across Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the Channel Islands, as well as an established ecommerce channel serving 130 countries. It employs approximately 1,700 staff across the business.
KMPG said that, like many other retailers, the company had recently experienced mounting cashflow pressures amidst some of the most difficult trading conditions seen on the high street in years.
Immediately following their appointment, the joint administrators sold the brand and UK trading assets of the businesses to Sports Direct International. All 100 stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as the distribution centre, will transfer to Sports Direct, along with all employees. The directors are currently assessing their options for the international business.
Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: ‘Jack Wills has a strong brand and proud British heritage, so it is pleasing to have been able to secure this agreement with Sports Direct.’
Suzanne Harlow, chief executive of Jack Wills, said: ‘For the past year, we have been focussed on improving the Jack Wills proposition and the group’s financial performance. Despite significant progress, the challenging trading environment led us to conclude that the company’s long-term future would be best served as part of a larger group and Sports Direct will enable us to do this.’
Jack Wills reported an operating loss of £14.2m for the year to 28 January 2018, the most recent results available.
The company will form part of a new division at Sports Direct which will focus on buying and building fashion and sports brands. Over the past year, Ashley has also acquired the House of Fraser department store chain and Evans Cycles, but has faced criticism over his stakes in Debenhams, which went into administration, and Goals Soccer Centres, which is mired in an accounting scandal.
Pat Sweet | 06-08-2019