Hundreds of jobs saved as Next makes last-minute swoop for Joules

Next has made an eleventh-hour swoop for stricken retailer Joules, saving over 100 stores and hundreds of jobs.

Leicester-based Next has gazumped South African-based Foschini Group, the owners of Whistles and Hobbs.

Joules has been sold to a newly formed company which is a joint venture set up by Next and Joules founder Tom Joule.

Next has also bought Joules’ head office in Market Harborough.

The new company has swooped for around 100 Joules stores, with approximately 1,450 employees across these stores and Joules’ HQ transferring as part of the transaction.

Some 19 stores are not part of the deal and will be closed with immediate effect, with the loss of 133 jobs. 

Will Wright, Ryan Grant and Chris Pole from Interpath Advisory were appointed joint administrators of Joules Group plc and Joules Limited on 16 November.

Wright said: “Following a highly competitive process, we are pleased to have concluded this transaction which secures the future of this great British brand, as well as safeguarding a significant number of jobs. To have achieved this in such a short timetable is testament to the support we’ve received from employees, suppliers and other key stakeholders throughout the administration process, so we’d like to express our profound thanks to everyone involved.”

Simon Wolfson, Next chief executive, said: “We are excited to see what can be achieved through the combination of Joules’ exceptional product, marketing and brand building skills with Next’s Total Platform infrastructure.”

Tom Joule said: “After three years away from the operational side, I’m truly looking forward to inspiring teams with clear direction to excite and recapture the imagination of the customer again. Our customers have always trusted us to lead, not follow, with products that reflect their lifestyle. It’s important that we live up to the high standards they desire in design, quality and, with Next’s Total Platform delivery and customer support proposition, the service they expect.

“I’m so pleased that we have been able to strike a deal that protects the future of the company for all its loyal customers, its employees and also for the town of Market Harborough, which have been so central to Joules’ success.”

Next had mulled a £15m investment in Market Harborough Joules over the summer but pulled out of talks after failing to receive sufficient financial information.

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