Jaeger fashion chain puts 700 jobs into question after filing notice to appoint administrators

The 133-year-old retailer earned a Royal Warrant in 1910 but in recent years has failed to adapt to the modern high street and neglected its core customers

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The Independent Online

Upmarket fashion chain Jaeger has filed notice to appoint administrators at the High Court putting the future of around 700 employees into question.

The 133-year-old retailer filed the notice on 5 April and informed employees at the firm’s 25 shops of the move on Thursday, a spokesperson for Jaeger confirmed.

Filing the notice does not mean that a formal administration process has started but it allows the company time to hold off creditors while any potential buyer develops plans for the struggling retailer’s future.

The news follows the sale of Jaeger’s debt to an undisclosed third party on 30th March. 

Rumours have circulated in recent weeks that former head of Jaeger, Harold Tillman, is interested in buying back the retailer, with Edinburgh Woollen Mill is also understood to be making a bid.

Private equity firm Better Capital bought 90 per cent of Jaeger for £19.5m in 2012, with Mr Tillman maintaining a 10 per cent stake.

Founded in 1884 as Dr Jaeger’s Sanitary Woollen System Co Ltd (named after Dr Gustav Jaeger, a zoologist who promoted the use of natural animal fibres in clothing), the brand was long at the forefront of fashion.

It earned a Royal Warrant in 1910 and in 1919, Jaeger launched the first camel hair coat, winning over the well-to-do ladies of London who flocked to its flagship Regent Street store.

However, in recent years the company has failed to adapt to the modern high street and in its quest for profits it has neglected its core middle-aged and discerning customers by turning to cheaper fabrics and offering heavy discounts.

Glen Tooke, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “London Fashion Week collections and more fashion-forward designs may appeal to younger shoppers, but with 45-54 year olds accounting for a fifth of spend, Jaeger’s tendency to overlook them has critically damaged its brand.

“Remarkably, discounting accounts for over three quarters of Jaeger sales. This constant stream of sales and offers has discouraged shoppers from paying full price and has lessened their trust in the quality of the Jaeger product – one of its fundamental selling points.”

The discounting trend is replicated across the wider market and other retailers will be at risk if they discount to much, Mr Tooke said.