Jack Wills announces 6 store closures

  • Jack Wills announces the closure of another 6 stores within the next month
  • Bournemouth, Camberley, Cheltenham, Soho, Truro and Witney
  • Retailer said it was “committed” to finding new roles within company for staff affected
  • The current batch of closures follows the 13 that have shut since Frasers Group acquired Jack Wills

By guest author Elias Jahshan from Retail Gazette

Jack Wills has revealed plans to shut down another six stores within the next month as rising business rates continued to bite and rent negotiations with landlords failed.

The Jack Wills stores earmarked for closure are located in Bournemouth, Camberley, Cheltenham, Truro, Witney and Soho in central London.

It is unclear how many staff will be affected.

However, Jack Wills said it was “committed” to finding them new roles elsewhere within the company.

In August last year, the fashion retailer was sold for GBP 12.75 million to Mike Ashley-owned Frasers Group – then known as Sports Direct International – via a pre-pack administration deal.

The latest tranche of store closures follows the 13 that have shut down then.

“Since rescuing Jack Wills from administration last year, we have worked hard with landlords to try and keep as many stores as possible open,” a Frasers Group spokesperson said.

“Our commitment to Jack Wills remains but, to ensure its future on the UK high street, we recognise the need to address running costs – including rents and business rates.

“Unfortunately, not all landlords involved have been as helpful as others.”

The spokesperson added: “Where possible, we are committed to finding new roles within the group for all Jack Wills staff affected by today’s announcement.”

When the rescue deal was confirmed last August, all Jack Wills stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as the distribution centre and all 1700 employees, transferred to Frasers Group.

Jack Wills also moved to a new division which focuses solely on buying and building fashion and sports brands that is led by Michael Murray – Ashley’s future son-in-law – in his role as Frasers Group head of elevation.

Suzanne Harlow also left her position as chief executive two weeks after the takeover.

In addition, soon after the acquisition it was revealed that eight of the roughly 100 Jack Wills stores were to shut down.

Another five stores were identified for closure in September.

Frasers Group has been negotiating with landlords to accept rent-free tenancy agreements across Jack Wills’ worst-performing stores.

Ashley’s retail group was also understood to have offered landlords five per cent of turnover at the majority of Jack Wills stores.