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Drapers Top 100 2016 – 74. Peter Williams, founder and chief executive, Jack Wills

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Peter Williams

Peter Williams

Peter Williams

Jack Wills founder and co-owner Peter Williams returned to the helm as chief executive last August when Wendy Becker stepped down.

Sales at Jack Wills were up 4.1% in the year to 31 January, but gross margin and EBITDA are still suffering from 2014’s failed attempt to outsource its warehouse operations. Orders were not being fulfilled on time that Christmas, and trading suffered as a result. It took a while, but the firm has now taken distribution back in house.

In October, the retailer said there had been ‘‘swift and significant improvement’’ since Williams’ return. And it announced that BlueGem Capital Partners, the private equity owner of London department store Liberty, has partnered with Williams to acquire the business. BlueGem’s investment signals confidence in the brand – and in Williams.

There is more to do to improve Jack Wills’ profitability, but Williams is the man to do it – and with the support of BlueGem, he could move further up the Top 100 next year.

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