Preppy young fashion retailer Jack Wills is back in profit two years after co-founder Peter Williams returned to revive its fortunes.
The business had suffered from a costly decision to outsource its logistics in 2014, which led to it posting an operating loss of £13.8m in the year to January 2016 after exceptional costs were taken into account (EBITDA had been £5.1m). However in the year to January 2017 it was back in the black posting profits of £730,000 on sales up 4% at £142.4m.
Williams, who founded the business with business partner Rob Shaw in Devon 18 years ago, told The Sunday Times that cutting back on discounting had played a key part in the business’s revival. Williams admitted to the publication that focusing on full-price sales and resisting the urge to discount had been “quite a painful experience” but that it had paid off.
Jack Wills had hit a bad patch in late 2014 after a decision was made to move its distribution to a third-party logistics supplier (a move it has since reversed), which continued to impact performance until the first half of 2016. Williams had left in 2012 after parting ways with Wendy Becker, a former McKinsey consultant who had taken over the business.
Following his return to the business in 2015, Williams teamed up with private equity house BlueGem Capital Partners, the owner of luxury department store Liberty, in October of last year to buy it back from long-term investor Inflexion. Williams and Blue Gem created investment vehicle Union Lifestyle Limited, which now owns 100% of the business.