Young fashion retailer Jane Norman is set to unveil a whole new look for autumn 13, promising more classic casuals and less diamanté dresses, but will the reinvention be enough to save the waning fashion chain?
It’s fair to say that Jane Norman has undergone a significant period of change since it was bought out by Edinburgh Woollen Mill, including the relocation of its London headquarters to Cardiff which resulted in around 40 redundancies.
Bosses at the new parent company now want to revamp the core product in order to iron out the “difficulties” the retailer has endured.
Their proposed solution? A “head to toe signature look”, with a focus on separates and denim. Execs promise that prices will largely “remain the same” but the quality of New Jane will be “vastly improved”. Think more cruise collection, less “glitzy gypsy”.
The retailer is also hoping to become “more exclusive” by reducing the number of stores on the high street. By “removing Jane Norman from the mass market” EMW wants to alter how shoppers view the chain and target a different clientele.
But somehow I doubt whether this change of tack will be the saving grace for the former fashion favourite.
It is notoriously difficult to change the position of a brand and alter its place in the market, taking years of careful planning, improving store environment, developing customer care and above all producing season after season of standout quality collections. Even then success is never guaranteed, so it’s no mean feat for any retailer, let alone one with the turbulent track record of old Jane.
And amidst claims of cancelled orders and stores not shifting enough stock, the downsizing may be more necessity than strategy.
Jane Norman also risks alienating its current customer base, who presumably love what chief executive Philip Day dismisses as gypsy wedding style, without gaining the attention or footfall from its new target shopper, who already has a very clear idea of what the brand represents.
Although the new collection is being kept under wraps for the time being, it’s clear that Jane Norman wants to take on high street heavyweights but unless the quality and design are up to scratch, the retailer might be better going back to basics and building the ‘New Jane’ from the foundations the brand was built on, glitz and all.