One of the finest ambassadors for classic British menswear, Jeremy Franks, who headed Daks Simpson for almost 20 years until 2004, died on August 14 after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 77.
Among the tributes for this very popular figure, Philip Mountford, chief executive of the Hunkemoller group in Holland and former chief executive of Moss Bros, recalled: “Jeremy was special to me as he gave me my first chance in business life (at Simpson Piccadilly) and nurtured and developed me through my early career.
“Jeremy was an incredible visionary who had the ability to spot talent and nurture it. He was a great marketer and brand builder who help bring Daks out of the Stone Age into being a global brand, and selling it for a great deal of money.
“More importantly, Jeremy was a people person, who would know and retain all the information about you and your family, and talk to everyone at all levels. He was the most stylish, sophisticated, intelligent, and worldly man I have ever met, who could converse at all levels, from stockroom boys to the Queen. He had an incredible presence. When he walked into a room, you would instantly know he had arrived.
“Jeremy Franks is an industry legend who will be remembered by everyone who met him.”
Educated at Wellington House and Lancing College, Franks was commissioned into the 1st King’s Dragoon Guards in 1955-57 and, throughout his career, carried an impressive military bearing that complemented his always-immaculate appearance.
Franks spent four decades working with classic British brands. After a short stint in his family’s building firm, he joined a West End woollen merchant, then a tie manufacturer in the exports sales department (he spoke French and German). In 1967 he was appointed European export marketing manager of Aquascutum. The following year he was transferred to north America, where he stayed for 14 years, first as managing director of Aquascutum Canada and then as senior executive vice president of Aquascutum, North America, based in Montreal.
After a three-year spell as managing director of Irving Samuel Clothing in north America, he returned to London in 1985 as managing director of Simpson (Piccadilly), the retail arm of the Daks Simpson group. By 1991 Franks was appointed managing director of the group, which incorporated the retail division, a manufacturing division based at its factory in Larkhall, Scotland, a global licensing network (especially in Asia), and wholesaling of UK-manufactured products in the UK, Europe and America.
In 1992 Franks was made chief executive and managing director of Daks Simpson Group and a director of Sankyo Seiko after the Japanese conglomerate acquired the share capital of the UK listed company. The charismatic Franks remained in charge until his retirement in April 2004.
For many years, Franks was active in promoting British brands through the British Menswear Guild and he was among the founders of the Walpole Committee, which promotes British luxury goods.
“Jeremy was a wonderful spokesman for British menswear and earned the respect and admiration of all during his years at Daks Simpson, The Walpole Committee and the BMG,” said David Challinor, former secretary of the BMG .
Rugby, cricket, antiques, fine wines, theatre and, in retirement, The Pony Club, were among his diverse interests. He leaves his wife of 55 years, Elizabeth, daughter Amanda and granddaughter Amber. The funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.
Jeremy Christopher Reynell Franks: Born April 26, 1937; died August 14, 2014.