Jacques Vert chief resigns as group dives into red

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The Independent Online
NIGEL COPE

Jacques Vert, the troubled upmarket women's wear group, announced the departure of its chief executive yesterday alongside its second profits warning of the year and the withdrawal of the dividend payment.

The retailer and wholesaler, which specialises in "occasionwear" for weddings and parties, said it would make "a substantial loss" in its current year instead of the break-even City analysts were expecting. The shares, trading at more than 200p six months ago, lost 38 per cent of their value yesterday to close at 77p.

David Tiedeman, chief executive, is leaving the company after only a year in the job.

He was on a two-year contract and is thought to be in line for compensation of up to pounds 220,000.

Though most of his share options are worthless due to the collapse in the company's share price, he does have 55,000 options granted at 44p.

He will be replaced by Bill Reid who is to become executive chairman. Brian Heilbron, commercial director, will move up to chief operating officer.

The company blamed the warning on a string of problems, many of which have been dogging the group for the past year. The hot summer last year affected sales of the group's more formal clothing.

It has also experienced production difficulties at its factory in the North-east and blamed tough trading on the high street and supplier delivery problems.

Since January the late delivery of cloth and other raw materials has delayed the production of garments which meant customer orders could not be satisfied.

A new computer system, due to have been fully installed by December has been dogged by teething problems, affecting distribution and service to wholesale customers.

Jacques Vert has been unable to deliver complete product ranges to customers either through its own stores or the concessions it operates in department stores.

The company said like-for-like sales were lower than last year which would mean a substantial loss for the year ending 27 April.

The company has decided not to pay a final dividend and to withdraw the previously announced interim payout of 2.25p per shares.

It is also in discussions with its bankers about extending its facilities which only run until September. Though it is within its borrowing limits, bank debts have risen above previously forecast levels.

The company is now planning to cut costs and borrowings. "Unprofitable retail units will be reviewed and closed if necessary where it is not anticipated that a satisfactory performance can be restored," the company said.

Jacques Vert was founded by Jack Cynamon and Alan Green. Both have stepped back from the day-to-day running of the company in the last two years and the handover has not proved a happy one.

Only six months ago the shares stood at 201p and the City was looking to re-rate the company as more of a retailer than a rag trade fashion group.

Last November it announced plans to open 50 concessions within House of Fraser's department stores to boost sales.

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