Founded in 1999, the Jack Wills brand has come a long way since Peter Williams and Robert Shaw opened their first shop in Salcombe, Devon with an investment of just £40,000. As Peter Williams was this week reinstated as CEO after he stepped down from the role two years ago, Drapers looks back at the past decade for the preppy British retailer.
The Jack Wills Seasonnaires, a group of young people going around ski resorts advertising the brand, first appear. Today the Seasonnaires scheme is still going strong, with this year’s campaign including a six-week internship at their first shop in Salcombe
Private equity firm Inflection purchased a 27% stake in the company for an undisclosed sum, which it still retains to this day. It was said at the time of the deal that the investment would enable Jack Wills to enter the Japanese market, but a store has yet to be opened there, although you can buy Jack Wills products on Japanese ecommerce sites.
The Aubin and Wills brand was created, targeting a slightly older demographic and offering a more muted color palette than the trademark pink and blue of the Jack Wills brand. Jack Wills also launched its Twitter account, which has now amassed 157,000 followers.
Jack Wills opened its first US store in Nantucket, Minnesota. The company today has 13 stores in the US, as well as franchises in the Middle East.
Jack Wills opened two stores in Hong Kong, including one in the popular Causeway Bay area. It also partnered with charity Malaria No More to sell handmade bracelets, the funds of which went to the charity for malaria relief.
Wendy Becker, the former Vodafone marketing boss, was brought in as chief operating officer in a bid to help transform the company into a large global brand, as co-founder and chief executive of the business Peter Williams stepped aside.
Jack Wills shut down its Aubin and Wills brand to focus on the main Jack Wills brand. The connected ‘Aubin Cinema’ in Shoreditch was renamed as the Electric cinema earlier in 2015.
Jack Wills made a £9.72m loss as it sought to overhaul its business ahead of a possible sale or float, which at the time was projected to be valued at more than £500m.
Wendy Becker was also appointed as chief executive in October of this year to help lead the potential IPO.
Former trade minister Lord Davies of Abersoch was appointed as Jack Wills chairman. Lord Davies’ knowledge of the UK and Asian markets was said to be a boon for the company, which had been slowly expanding on the continent. This followed the appointment of Richard Nicoll as the company’s new creative director.
In September the retailer reported a 5.2% increase in turnover to £129.3m and also opened its first stores in Singapore and Macau.
House of Fraser lost a legal battle against Jack Wills in January of this year over the two business’ avian logos.
This week Jack Wills co-founder Peter Williams was reinstated as the CEO, replacing Becker. The business also announced that it is no longer considering a stock market float in the foreseeable future.
In May the retailer announced a series of hires including Richard Fawdry, former head of commercial operations development at Tesco in central Europe, who joined as merchandising director.
Richard Nicoll launched his first collection as creative director in February, which featured inspirations from 60s youth-pop and bright colours.