Fashion powerhouse Next has teamed up with Joules founder Tom Joule to buy the retailer, fending off competition for control from Phase Eight owner Foschini.

Joules store

Next has won control of Joules

Next had considered investing in Joules before it collapsed into administration last month, but Foschini was thought to be the frontrunner to acquire Joules’ assets as late as this morning.

Next said that, along with Joule, it had acquired the “majority of assets of Joules” via a newly formed company for £34m. Next has also acquired the Joules head office for £7m.

The deal includes 100 Joules stores and saves the jobs of 1,450 employees in those shops and at the head office, while 19 branches will shut and 133 jobs will be lost.

The branches that will be closing are: Carmarthen, Cheltenham, Chichester, Edinburgh, Exeter, Gateshead, Lyme Regis, Newbury, Northcote Road in London, Oxford, Peak Village in Derbyshire, Peterborough, Reigate, Fore Street in Salcombe, Sherborne, Southwold, St Davids, Waterloo and Watford.

Next will own 74% of the equity of the new company and Joule the remaining 26%.

Next said that Joules will “retain its management autonomy and creative independence”, with its own board of directors. Joules will migrate onto the Next Total Platform “over time”.

Joules chief executive Jonathon Brown, who was appointed earlier this year, will remain in post.

Next chief executive Lord Wolfson 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 has been so central to Joules’ success.”

Will Wright, head of restructuring at Joules administrator Interpath Advisory, 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.”

Next has already taken the opportunity to snap up retailers in distress. It bolstered its furniture and home division last month when it bought the brand name, domain names and intellectual property of bust online specialist out of administration for £3.4m.

It has also bolstered its stable of brands with a variety of investments, such as in fashion retailer and brand Reiss.

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