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What is going to happen to Ipswich's Jack Wills store?

PUBLISHED: 11:41 09 July 2019

Jack Wills in Tavern Street. Photo: Archant.

Jack Wills in Tavern Street. Photo: Archant.

Archant

Jack Wills is on the hunt for a new owner after months of poor sales.

According to Drapers, the struggling firm's private equity owner, BlueGem, is looking for the "right kind of buyer", but will keep a minority stake.

The high street brand has appointed KPMG, an advisory firm known for its insolvency and restructuring expertise, to carry out a review of the business.

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It has around 100 stores across the UK, including one in Ipswich's Tavern Street which opened in 2016.

However, recent months have been particularly tough for the retailer.

Poor weather throughout May and June resulted in a sales slump as demand dropped for late spring and early summer ranges.

The drop in sales could have a devastating impact, prompting concerns the company could be left short of cash during the busy Christmas period.

And saw the company offering 50% discounts in hopes of shifting stock.

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Jack Wills, like many other high street brands, has been hit hard by the rise of internet shopping and reduced footfall in town centres.

In the year to January 2018, the latest reported figures, it revealed a pre-tax loss of £29m as sales declined to £129.3m.

Since taking control of Jack Wills in 2016, BlueGem has pumped £18m into the retailer and arranged an additional £10m lifeline from Italian businessman Giorgio Girondi.

It also has a £25m credit line from HSBC, which has security over Jack Wills' assets.

In a document prepared by KPMG and circulated to potential buyers it is suggested Jack Wills could increase its profits through store closures - specifically one of its flagship stores in London's Covent Garden.

Yet it remains unclear what a new owner would mean for other stores, and the 1,900 staff, across the country.

This year Ipswich town centre has seen a number of struggling national retailers leave.

Office Outlet closed down last month and Monsoon is set to shut its doors for good this weekend.

Likewise Argos, Ohh Deer, Trespass and Riley & Riley Jewellers have all closed in recent months.

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