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Exclusive: Jaeger seeks investor to bolster growth

Jaeger is working with the corporate finance arm of AlixPartners and owner Better Capital to evaluate interest from prospective strategic partners or to find a buyer, Drapers can exclusively reveal.

The premium retailer has been in discussions with AlixPartners over the last few days and will formally appoint its corporate finance arm at the end of the week.

Jaeger has been working on a turnaround strategy that includes a focus on full-price sales, repositioning the brand and the upcoming launch of a new website, as well as exploring new opportunities through licensing, category extensions and international expansion.

Better Capital owner Jon Moulton told Drapers last month that he planned to wind up his private equity firm by 2020, but expects to have sold Jaeger within that timeframe. He said it was attracting regular interest, which was “encouraging”.

Jaeger chief executive Chris Horobin said the firm now has a clear strategy in place and planned to relocate or open 10 to 12 stores in the next 18 months to two years. It has been moving away from a reliance on discounting to full-price sales and reducing its emphasis on outlets.

For the nine weeks to 31 January, like-for-like sales were up 9%, while online sales increased by 22% compared with the same period last year.

“Our best-selling items through the Sale period were still our full-price coats that were not marked down, so our strategy is starting to pay off,” said Horobin. “We are 170% up on outerwear for the new season.”

In October 2016, Jaeger opened a 2,000 sq ft store on Marylebone High Street as part of its ongoing turnaround strategy. The store is understood to have exceeded expectations, and 50% of sales came from new customers.

The retailer has since rolled out the new look and feel to concessions in Newbury and Wimbledon, where like-for-like sales have showed a double-digit increase since the refit.

A new website is set to go live at the start of March with some international language and currency options. Jaeger has started conversations with partners for overseas expansion, focusing on four markets: the US, the Far East, the Middle East and Europe. Currently 9% of online traffic comes from overseas and 5% of sales.

Jaeger is also exploring licensing and category extensions including swimwear, jewellery, women’s hosiery, sunglasses, home, bath and bodycare.

Drapers understands the business is still loss-making. It will make an operating loss in line with last year but net profit is expected to be higher.

“We have a clear strategy in place and have been making steps in the right direction,” said Horobin. “Our performance is likely to be similar to last year but with a stronger balance sheet – there are some good pockets of success.”

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