This week has been another tale of contrasting fates. The long-embattled Jaeger went into administration, which is no surprise to many, but is a sad blow to the high street and to the 680 workers affected. Meanwhile, JD Sports Fashion goes from strength to strength.
After 133 years in business, Jaeger, once the go-to destination for the well-off older shopper, had lost its way. A raft of departures in the last year, including trading director Gwynn Milligan, signalled the beginning of the end for the high street stalwart.
Jaeger seemed to lose its focus, and tried to be too many things to too many customer groups. Known in its heyday as the place to buy smart, well-designed and well-made product – with a few more adventurous pieces in the collection – the handwriting of the brand is no longer recognisable. Although Jaeger still has a following from customers looking for classic, high-quality clothing, that group has become much smaller and competition in the market has grown in recent years.
The introduction of sub-brands in an attempt to attract a younger shopper put off the core customer and, when former chief executive Colin Henry left Jaeger in September 2015, it was suggested that it was in part because he disagreed with this change in strategy.
Jaeger was always going to struggle to regain its position in the market
Although Jaeger did work on its store fit – highlighted by the Marylebone shop opening last October – relaunch its website last July and attempt to improve its product selection, unfortunately, it seems it was too little, too late. Without huge investment, Jaeger was always going to struggle to regain its position in the market.
In more positive news, JD Sports Fashion has posted another year of record results. Growth strategies including international expansion, particularly in Europe, and investment in its flagship stores, which continue to boost footfall despite the sluggishness of the high street, have borne fruit. It has capitalised on the demand for the athleisure trend and is now one of the most dominant players in this sector.
These factors, coupled with streamlining processes to improve efficiency, means JD Sports continues to score in a challenging marketplace. It is a shame that Jaeger could not have done the same.