Jacques Vert’s new chief executive Shaun Wills is confident that the retailer can reach new heights after slimming down its brand offering.
As Retail Week revealed this morning Wills, formerly chief financial officer of Supergroup, took the helm at the womenswear business today, replacing Tim Davies, who has been in the role less than a year and is moving on having achieved his aim of stabilising the business.
Wills and Davies both joined the retailer in May 2015. At the time, the group had 10 brands. Now, just five remain, and one – Windsmoor – is wholesale only.
The pair recognised that the brands under the Jacques Vert umbrella had lost their separate identities and so were keen to focus their energies on the brands they believed could be successful, if properly differentiated.
Wills observed: “Now it’s about the growth of the individual brands. We’re known for quality and occasionwear. We need to be more front of mind when it comes to being contemporary, relevant and versatile.”
Davies said that following the stabilisation of the business, the current financial year would be about strengthening and differentiating brands and from next year onwards the focus would be on growth.
The brands are expected to benefit from the establishment of dedicated brand directors instead of all being overseen by two trading directors as was previously the case.
The eponymous label is the company’s biggest brand. Previously firmly aligned with a “mother-of-the-bride” aesthetic, the brand is now chasing “the modern woman who appreciates the finer things in life” with a new daywear collection.
The retailer is keen not to lose the brand’s roots however and still specialises in “refined head-to-toe occasion outfits aimed at women looking for quality tailoring and attention to detail”.
Precis, which used to cater purely for the petite market, was expanded in the last season and now includes clothes in all sizes. However designers have been careful to ensure that each item is still perfectly proportioned for customers of 5’3” and below.
Precis has a more feminine aesthetic than any other Jacques Vert brand, and is billed as “feminine, couture-inspired dresses and separates for all occasions”.
Traditional British brand Windsmoor had expanded beyond its outerwear remit but Jacques Vert’s management decided to reverse the change, focusing on creating traditional coats for mature women. The brand will now be wholesale only.
The most casual of the Jacques Vert brands, Dash specialises in “everyday comfort, quality fabrics and vibrant colours”. The range is focused on weekend dressing and features items such as gilets, jeggings and jersey fabric tops.
Eastex is aimed at a more mature customer than Jacques Vert and is more focused on daywear. The range is based around tailored separates and dresses, designed for “everyday comfort and a flattering fit”.
Wills says: “The focus for me now is on product development.” If shopper appetite matches the ambition of Wills and the Jacques Vert team then the company’s brands should be worthy of that description rather than simply being labels on clothes.