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Jack Wills makes a £10m loss as owners prepare for sale

Preppy young fashion chain Jack Wills posted a £9.72m pre-tax loss in the year to February 3 as it overhauled its business ahead of a possible sale or float.

The owners Peter Williams and Robert Shaw are preparing for a sale or initial public offering of more than £500m in the next three to six years, according to the Financial Times ( July 15).

A sale or float would mean a windfall of at least £350m for Williams and Shaw, who still own 70% of the company, with private equity group Inflexion having a 27% stake.

Sales from continuing operations rose from £113.8m to £122.9m. Sales from discontinued operations Aubin & Wills were £10.2m.

Aubin & Wills made an operating loss of £1.28m and there was a £2.61m exceptional charge for shutting down the brand, including the closure of its 13 stores.

Net debt also more than doubled from £1.51m to £3.93m after the retailer took on borrowings to fund the new stock management system.

The business made £3.32m of pre-tax profit in the same period last year.

Wendy Becker, former Vodafone marketing boss, joined the company as chief operating officer in September.

Since taking up her role, Becker has bolstered the company’s management team with appointments including a new finance director and new retail, international, marketing, digital and merchandising directors. She also closed down the Aubin & Wills sub-brand.

Becker said the changes positioned the brand for future growth as well as a possible deal.

She added: “I have been brought in to create a large global brand and to maximise the value of this business for a transaction that will certainly happen at some point in a three to six year timeframe.”

In its last financial year, Jack Wills opened six standalone stores, including two in the US, and two franchised stores in the Middle East.

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