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New Jaeger chairman targets £7m profit

New Jaeger chairman Stewart Binnie is planning to return to the premium retailer’s peak of 2009/10, when it made £7m profit.

Binnie, who has taken over from Harold Tillman as executive chairman of the business, has identified international expansion as one of the main planks of growth and will be “putting more emphasis” on the directional collection Jaeger London as a result.

He is eyeing eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia, via a range of models including franchises and concessions, to drive the company forward.

Speaking with Drapers, Binnie said he was aiming to build international revenues to one-third of the business by five-to-seven years, alongside a “robust” UK business.

“By the time Jaeger is sold [by private equity owner Better Capital] I’d like to have created international business, of around one-third compared with two-thirds coming from the UK. But the next owner might well want to reverse that,” he said.

Growth in the UK would be trickier given the economy and the influx of European competitors, but Binnie was confident the business would re-attract its “heartland customer” with new collections and return to quality. Ecommerce is also essential, and a new director is set to join the business soon, ahead of a major revamp of the website in the coming months.

“Our preoccupation is with our current customers,” he said. “We can’t give up on our heartland customers - although it is not sufficient on its own [for our growth plans].”

Binnie expects Jaeger to be in profit at the end of this financial year next February, and he and his team of new hires are now establishing how profitable the business can become overall.

The £7m peak is in his sights. “I would think that it’s possible to do again, but the market is difficult, so it’s no small task,” he said.

He is also considering exiting or downsizing in some towns and shopping centres that are not right for Jaeger’s demographic, such as Westfield Stratford. He admitted he was “surprised” by the retailer’s presence there.

Although he has identified “half a dozen weak stores”, within the five year plan, Binnie plans to expand the UK footprint by a net total of 10. “I think that will be the limit of our UK footprint,” he said.

Binnie also unveiled further details of his plan to introduce third-party brands to the Regent Street flagship, noting that there would be about 30 British womenswear and accessories labels in total, of which 12 would be new. They will appear in the store from March.

“We want to showcase young British brands,” he said.

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