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Exclusive: Gwynn Milligan among senior departures from Jaeger

Jaeger’s trading director Gwynn Milligan has left the business amid a shake-up of its senior management team, Drapers has learned.

Jaeger store

Jaeger store

Milligan is one of a trio of senior people to depart the premium retailer. As reported by Drapers yesterday, product director Liza Canneford-Webb is leaving after three years.

It has now also come to light that chief information officer Cathy McCabe has exited the business.

The three women will not be directly replaced. Creative director Sheila McKain-Waid will take on responsibility for the design of stores and product supply, supported by the design and product teams.

One source told Drapers responsibility for trading will now fall under chief financial officer Ken Pratt, who joined Jaeger in July.

The source said it was a “cost-saving measure”: “That’s three big salaries they are cutting out. The heads of department are going to be relied upon more heavily going forward.”

The decision to streamline the management structure will allow Jaeger to divert more resources towards improving its stores and product.

In October, Jaeger opened a store on Marylebone High Street, which it said presented a fresh vision for the brand, including an improved product offer. Its website relaunched in July with new personalisation features and enhanced navigation.

Milligan, Canneford-Webb and McCabe were all hired by former Jaeger chief executive Colin Henry.

Henry was brought into Jaeger in 2013 to form a turnaround team by its owner, private equity firm Better Capital, which took control of the retailer in April 2012.

Henry poached McCabe in December 2014 from Burberry, where she was vice president of IT, customer and payments.

He then appointed Milligan, whose 37-year career includes stints at Bank, Mothercare, Arcadia, Asos and briefly Reiss and Cocosa, to the newly created role of trading director in April 2015.

At the same time, Henry expanded Canneford-Webb’s role as director of womenswear to include menswear and accessories, and promoted Caroline Lee from chief operating officer to omnichannel director.

Henry left Jaeger in December 2015, partway through his five-year turnaround plan, and was replaced by Chris Horobin, who is an operating partner at Better Capital.

Lee left Jaeger in April of this year, and was shortly followed out the door by chief financial officer Harminder Atwal – who was later replaced by Pratt. In October, Anita Lyons left her position as retail director at Jaeger after just six months.

Nadine Jones has now been promoted to retail and people director, while Greg Saunders joined as digital director in September.

Jaeger closed three loss-making stores in the first quarter of 2016, including its 27,500 sq ft Regent Street flagship. Sales fell 6.8% to £78.4m in the 12 months to 27 February – down 4% on a like-for-like basis. However, its operating losses narrowed by 19% to £6.6m.

The retailer now has 49 stores in key cities including London, Cambridge, Brighton and Oxford, and this number is expected to remain stable.

Jaeger confirmed the recent departures, but declined to comment further.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Has Gwynn Milligan effected growth anywhere in the past decade? It continues to baffle me how people breeze between 6 figure salary jobs without a history of success in recent memory. Also, in my experience, to waltz into a struggling business without a single new idea. It's sad that these large brands and retailers are in a desperate state to move their business into contemporary times but continue to hire old hands that have nothing to offer. I can only assume that their appointment is a sign of the inherent problem at said business. For British brands and retailers to battle through the challenge of bricks and mortar trading it's going to take much more than hiring someone who happens to have some big brand names down the lower rungs of a cv.

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