Teresa Tideman, who has led the turnaround at Jacques Vert Group for the past two years, has stepped down.
Her replacement is former Debenhams and Baugur executive Tim Davies, who joined JVG two months ago as interim transformation director. She will work alongside Davies for the next few months to ensure a smooth transition.
“Having transformed the business I inherited and having agreed the three-year strategy in December, this is a good time for me to leave the business in Tim’s capable hands,” she told Drapers.
Shaun Wills, the former SuperGroup chief financial officer who had his personal bankruptcy annulled on appeal last week, has taken over as chief financial officer with immediate effect from JVG chief financial officer Jo Bennett, who joined the mainstream womenswear business just over a year ago.
She is returning to the private equity sector and will leave in early May after the handover to Wills.
The brand house, which includes Jacques Vert, Precis Petite, Eastex, Dash, Windsmoor and the new plus-size brand Colebrook, is owned by private equity firm Sun European, which bought it for an undisclosed sum in 2011. In the 52 weeks to January 25, 2014 the business had sales of £183.7m and made a loss of £12.4m.
As outlined in a Drapers Interview last year, Tideman has led the strategy of tidying up the mixed bag of mainly department store concession brands, cleaning up UK distribution and expanding internationally, notably via two Debenhams concessions in the UAE. She has also overseen the overhaul of the website. Online sales now account for around 16% of the total and Davies sees increasing this as a priority.
In an exclusive interview today shortly after the head office staff in Islington were told of the news, the new CEO told Drapers that the plan would be “to implement our three-year strategy faster by doing fewer things better”. He acknowledged that there would have to be a period of adjustment by the staff internally with the two changes at the top, but said that as he had been working closely with Tideman for the past two months, the development was “unexpected, but not unexpected”.
Agreeing that he could not embody JVG’s “elegant British brands” as well as Tideman, he said: “I have never been a buyer and I am not a product person. But everyone at this company represents our brands - even our receptionist wears our product. People like (brand director) Amanda Lester are responsible for the product, but my strengths in retailing are in everything but product.”
After six years as a consultant after university, Davies joined Debenhams as strategy director in 2000. By 2001 he had joined the store group’s management board. In 2007 he joined Baugur as director of retail ventures, where his task was to integrate the many businesses acquired by the Icelandic investors. “The Baugur guys were deal-makers, not retailers,” he said. “It was my job to make the businesses work together.”
Since 2009 he has run his own business, Adwerth Consultancy, which has specialised in advising retailers on strategy, operations and energy efficiency.
Davies made light of the recent revelations around JVG’s new CFO. Wills, who joined SuperGroup in April 2012, stepped down in February this year after being declared personally bankrupt by HM Revenue & Customs. But the bankruptcy was annulled on April 14 after he paid back the money he owed following a long-running tax dispute. “That was all a personal matter for Shaun,” said Davies.
JVG employs more than 2,700 people in the UK and Ireland, more than 2,500 of which are staff in its about 350 concessions and 18 standalones. It has more than 300 employees in 50 Canadian stores and just over 20 staff in six Belgian stores.
In the immediate future Tideman intends to spend more time with her family (her husband Chris is a former director of Burton Group, now part of Arcadia) and involve herself more with her charitable interests. It is thought that, given her 35 years of experience, it is likely she will return to fashion retailing in the future. Her CV includes stints at the Burton Group, Australian department store group David Jones and The Disney Store Europe.
Jacques Vert Group won the Fashion Marketing Campaign category at the Drapers Awards 2014 for its Mum & Me Coatwalk initiative. It has been shortlisted in this year’s Drapers Digital Awards, which will be presented at a gala dinner on April 30, for the overhaul of its website.