Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct Group has continued its high street expansion, buying the British fashion retailer Jack Wills out of administration.
Will Wright and Chris Pole from KPMG’s Restructuring practice were appointed Joint Administrators to Jack Wills Limited, Wills Lifestyle Holdings Limited and Union Lifestyle Limited on August 5, 2019.
Sports Direct will acquire 100 Jack Wills stores in the UK and Ireland and take on 1,700 staff as part of the deal. The group bought House of Fraser out of administration last year and recently admitted it regretted having done so. It also purchased Evans Cycles in 2018.
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 USA.
The company also has six franchised stores across Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the Channel Islands, as well as an established e-commerce channel serving 130 countries.
Like many other retailers, Jack Wills had recently experienced mounting cash flow pressures amidst some of the most difficult trading conditions seen on the high street in years.
Immediately following their appointment, the joint administrators sold Jack Wills 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, commented: “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.”