Jaeger sold off the peg for £19.5m

The British fashion brand has been snapped up by Jon Moulton's venture capital outfit, Better Capital.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
Turnarounds are rare in the rag trade, so the tale of Harold Tillman’s incredible stewardship of Jaeger, taking the ailing brand from fashion victim to catwalk sweetheart in just a few years, has become legend.

Tillman bought the loss-making brand for next to nothing back in 2003, when most of its customers were little old ladies looking for cashmere cardigans. Despite the effects of recession and continuing economic strife, Jaeger now turns over £94m with a million in profit.

Today, Better Capital acquired a 90% stake in the fashion house for £19.5m. Tillman has made a tidy – if undisclosed - sum from the sale but the deal may not be such great news for Jaeger staff. The firm is top heavy, as its rather diminutive profit suggests, with 50 of its own stores including the flagship outlet in Regent Street and concessions in another 90 shops around the globe. It employs around 1,000 people. People who won’t be overjoyed to hear new owner Moulton say that he would be ‘astounded’ if it did not have to close some stores.

‘The numbers show it was relatively profitable, but is less so now,’ added Moulton. ‘It's a great brand name and is a business that's got a good solid base.’

On the plus side, Moulton must see something of real value in the business: it’s Better Capital’s first high street acquisition, and Moulton won’t be dipping his toe into retail waters if he spies sharks lurking beneath.

MT reckons that the downturn tipped the balance in Jaeger’s favour. As Moulton admits, the typical Jaeger customer is ‘part of the population that has not done so badly’ and in the fashion business, where red is never in vogue, it helps when your customers have cash to splash.

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