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Jack Wills back in the black

Jack Wills has returned to profit after adopting a firm no discounting policy.

The business made an operating profit of £730,000 for the year to 29 January, compared with a £13.8m loss the year before having absorbed £1.7m of costs associated with the acquisition by Bluegem.

Group EBITDA was up 64% to £8.4m and sales were up 4% year on year to £142.4m.

The business said gross margin before foreign exchange movements increased to 60% from 58% in 2016 as a result of a “deliberate strategy” to reduce discounting. It added that sales growth was “restricted” as a result of the focus.

Founder Peter Williams, who returned to the firm in 2015 after a three-year break, said a focus on driving full-price sales had boosted profitability. 

“Momentum has very much returned to the business and this is evident from the overall improvement in, and return to, profitability. This momentum of profit improvement is continuing through the current financial year, helped by our efficiency programmes and our deliberate strategy to reduce promotional activity, which improved margin. I returned to the helm of Jack Wills with a clear strategy to evolve the brand and return it to profitability and we are making evident progress on this journey.”

The group opened 10 new stores during the year, relocated two, refitted three and closed five shops, bringing the total of wholly owned stores to 86- 71 in the UK, seven in the US, five in Hong Kong, two in Singapore and one in Macau.

Williams added: “We are strengthening and growing our presence in the UK and overseas and will open an additional 10 stores this year. We are making really good progress financially, the product we make today is amongst the best it has ever been.”

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