Next lays off 133 staff after buying collapsed retailer Joules

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ollapsed country fashion brand Joules has been bought up by retail rival Next, administrators have said, in a deal that will see 133 of its staff being laid off.

The retailer has acquired around 100 Joules stores, with approximately 1,450 employees across these stores and head office transferring as part of the transaction.

Under the terms of the deal, Joules’ head office in Leicestershire has also been acquired while 19 stores will be closed immediately.

Will Wright, head of Restructuring at Interpath Advisory and joint administrator, 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.”

Joules was set to appoint administrators last month after failing to agree a financing deal to rescue the business, putting around 1,600 jobs at risk.

The company revealed that it was in discussions with a number of investors to try and raise cash after the mild autumn and fading consumer confidence dented its sales.

But it later said those discussions had not been successful, and so administrators Interpath Advisory would be taking control in order to protect its creditors.

Garden Trading, Joules’ furniture and accessories business, will also file for administration. Shares in the company have been suspended “pending further clarification of the company’s financial position”, the London Stock Exchange said.

There was also interest in buying the brand from Mike Ashley’s Frasers and supermarket Marks & Spencer, according to Bloomberg News.

The value of Joules shares has fallen 93% this year, from around 140p in January to 9p at the end of last week.

Once a beloved brand of the Prince and Princess of Wales, Joules began life selling branded clothing and accessories at equestrian and country shows in the late 1970s.

Tom Joule, son of the company’s founder Ian, successfully oversaw its transformation from niche brand to high street staple, and Joules opened its first store in 2000.

It now has 132 shops plus four concessions and three franchise stores across the UK, meaning its collapse would leave more empty units on Britain’s high streets.

The news comes just days after Next bought the brand of furniture seller after the business filed for administration.

Made, which employs around 600 people, said it will sell its brand, websites and intellectual property to the clothes retailer.

It is a sharp downturn for the company, which launched on the London Stock Exchange less than two years ago with a £775 million price tag and promises of accelerated growth and leading the online furniture market.

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