Jaeger: Bankers ran 133-year-old fashion chain into the ground, says label's former owner

Harold Tillman described the companies and individuals now trying to profit from the remaining parts of Jaeger as 'vultures'

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The Independent Online

The former owner of Jaeger, Harold Tillman has accused bankers and private equity bosses of running the 133-year-old fashion chain into the ground.

Jaeger was put into administration this month, having struggled since turnaround firm Better Capital bought it from Mr Tillman in 2012. Better Capital earlier sold Jaeger’s debt at a heavily discounted price of £7m. 

In an interview with The Telegraph Mr Tillman said its new owners didn't have anyone with the necessary fashion industry expertise and said the decision to close down two labels that appealed to younger customers had been a mistake.

Other analysts have accused Jaeger of neglecting its core demographic of middle-aged customers.

Mr Tillman attacked Jaeger's banker Lloyds, which he claims sold the retailer’s debt to Better Capital without his knowledge in 2012.

“Laws have to change, insolvency laws have to change”, Mr Tillman told the newspaper. He described the companies and individuals now trying to profit from the remaining parts of Jaeger as “vultures”.

“They had written evidence of my personal wealth and a personal guarantee and they knew I was working on these other deals, but they went with ‘the bird in hand’,” Mr Tillman said.

Lloyds has denied the claims and told The Telegraph Jaeger was under pressure and risked not being able to pay its rent.

Jaeger – which prior to announcing the administration, employed around 680 staff across 46 stores, 63 concessions, its London head office and a logistics centre in Kings Lynn – had been on the market for around £30m.

However, no buyer materialised and Better Capital sold Jaeger's debt to a company understood to be controlled by the retail billionaire Philip Day, who heads up Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

Jaeger was founded as Dr Jaeger's Woollen System Co Ltd by businessman Lewis Tomalin and says its clothes have been worn by famous figures from explorer Ernest Shackleton to Marilyn Monroe.