|Founded||1999 (Salcombe, Devon)|
Number of locations
United Arab Emirates
|Revenue||£41.8 million (2009)|
|£5.1 million (2009)|
Number of employees
The brand has been described as delivering "preppy dressing" and its range includes pieces such as colourful and branded jersey, denim and knits. It also sells lingerie and accessories.
History of the brand
Peter Williams and Robert Shaw founded the brand in 1999. Williams was 23 when the first store opened at 22 Fore Street, Salcombe and it was created with £40,000 – the founders slept above the shop. The brand was named after one of the co-founders' grandparents.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Williams describes the idea behind Jack Wills; "When I started thinking about a premium brand I dredged up this vision of what I remembered in Salcombe. I thought, 'What if I could create a brand that could bottle what being at a British university was all about and all the cool amazing stuff that goes with that?' It's such a uniquely cherished part of your life. I thought if you could create a brand that epitomised that it would be very compelling."
The brand was a success, with a second store opened in Fulham, London, in October the same year. The store was ram-raided on the eve of the millennium and was closed down, but a new second store was opened in the Suffolk coastal town of Aldeburgh. As the brand continued to grow, Jack Wills stores were placed in cities and towns with prestigious universities or private schools, such as Eton, Oxford, Winchester and St Andrews.
Originally, it was heavily marketed towards university students, using the slogan and trademark "University Outfitters" to reflect the inspiration behind the brand. The "University Outfitters" slogan has slowly been replaced with the more favoured slogan "Fabulously British".
Today, the brand is partly owned by Jack Wills Ltd, a private limited company registered in the UK, while a 27% stake is held by the private equity firm Inflexion after an investment deal in 2007. In 2011, the company was valued at £140 million, of which co-founders Williams and Shaw hold a 52% stake and 21% stake, respectively.
In February 2014, it was announced that fashion designer Richard Nicoll was to become the new creative director of Jack Wills, to come into effect Spring 2015. Despite Nicoll's role being on a part-time basis (to allow him to continue his eponymous line), it was seen as a major new move for the company.
Since the first store opened in Salcombe, 80 Jack Wills stores have opened across the United Kingdom and internationally. There are currently (as of June 2014) 45 stores in England (9 of which are in London), four in Scotland (Edinburgh, St Andrews, Aberdeen and Glasgow), two in Wales (Abersoch and Cardiff), and one in Northern Ireland (Belfast). There are also four outlet stores across the UK; Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, Bicester, Halifax and Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet.
Internationally, there are two stores in the Republic of Ireland, one in Dublin and an outlet store in Kildare, three in Hong Kong, and thirteen stores in the United States. Expansion into the Asian Pacific market in 2014 has seen stores developed in Macau and Singapore.
There are also a number of franchised stores. The first franchise store opened on the island of Jersey, but four more have since opened in the Middle East; Kuwait, Beirut, and two in Dubai (Dubai Mall, and Mercato Mall).
The most recent stores to open in the UK are Newcastle, Cribbs Causeway and Heathrow Terminal 2. 2014 has seen the emergence of more stores across the UK, with stores set to open in; Lincoln, Southampton (in West Quay shopping centre), Trafford Centre in Manchester, Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet and a 6-month pop-up store in Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford.
Jack Wills' products are branded with a logo of a pheasant with a top hat and a walking stick, known as "Mr Wills". The company publishes "Handbooks" each season: the Autumn Term Handbook, for example, or the Christmas Handbook. Jack Wills clothing ranges from traditional British formal wear, such as shirts, tweed jackets and blazers, to more contemporary casual clothing: hooded tops, sweatpants, t-shirts and polo shirts. Products such as rugby shirts and luggage are also sold, as are homeware goods and stationery.
The brand’s ranges are given a ‘private school’ and ‘preppy’ branding, as the Jack Wills pricing strategy means the clothes may not be considered affordable to everyone. Jack Wills feature sports-oriented, collegiate branding, for example apparel relating to polo, rugby, and also rowing, such as the J.W.R.C (Jack Wills Rowing Club). Jack Wills' "University Outfitters" title reflects its target market: university students. However, the label is popular in both Secondary schools and colleges. The brand does not use a conventional advertising model, instead relying on word of mouth viral marketing. This is often stimulated by the events they hold such as the Jack Wills Varsity Polo, JW Unsigned and JW Seasonnaires. In April 2011 the ASA upheld complaints about the Jack Wills 2011 Spring Term Handbook. The handbook contained some controversial images of young adults in a state of undress. In their ruling, the ASA said that "we concluded that the catalogue was sufficiently provocative as to present a risk to younger teenagers." A previous campaign in 2009 had also produced complaints but escaped a ban.
Aubin & Wills
Aubin & Wills was launched by Jack Wills in September 2008 as a sister brand, aimed at customers, aged 25 and up. Its slogan was "Modern British design inspired by the past living in the present" In November 2012 Jack Wills announced the decision to terminate the Aubin and Wills brand in order to concentrate on the global growth of the principal brand, with all trading ceasing by January 2013.
The Aubin Gallery & Cinema
On 20 May 2010, the Aubin Gallery was launched, situated on the top floor of the Shoreditch store in collaboration with British artist and curator Stuart Semple. Under Semple's directorship the gallery's primary focus has been to provide a platform for a new generation of international artists and curators. It has also expanded to include off-site projects, for example with Miriam Elia's exhibition "I fell in love with a conceptual artist" at the Nave Church, international exhibition initiatives and a publishing arm. Since 2010 the program has showcased the works of Tom Ormond, Piers Secunda, The Girls, Alana Lake, Alex Bunn, Sarah Maple, Adham Faramawy, James Howard, NERO and Yasam Sasmazer amongst others. The 7,500 sq ft (700 m2). concept space also includes The Aubin Cinema which is run in collaboration with the members' club Shoreditch House and is a new social hot spot in East London’s Redchurch Street.
Jack Wills Outlet
At the end of 2009, Jack Wills launched a new website, Jack Wills Outlet. The outlet store acts as a medium for a "limited number of the Jack Wills community" to purchase last seasons' clothes at a discounted price, normally the end-of-sale price or less, up to 75% off. Access to Jack Wills Outlet is strictly by invitation only; membership is obtained by submitting a regular Jack Wills account to the waiting list on the outlet website and waiting for an invitation. Membership is reviewed every three months and Jack Wills revokes access privileges to those who have not activated their membership or who have not made a purchase during that period. This is so that the "privilege of the JW Outlet is restricted to the most valued members of the Jack Wills community."
The store has a "no frills approach" and does not offer gift wrapping, fancy packaging or guaranteed delivery times. Returning items to the outlet store is by mail order but goods can also be returned to a Jack Wills retail store. The outlet store offers the same range of products as the regular site.
- "Jack Wills Financial Review 2007-2010" (PDF). Retail Knowledge Bank. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
- Vernon, Polly (9 May 2010). "Jack Wills: The Sloane Ranger Rides Again". The Observer. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- Bergin, Olivia (March 31, 2010). "Jack Wills to open flagship store in Covent Garden". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- Kuchler, Hannah (31 May 2010). "Business Diary: Peter Williams, Jack Wills". Financial Times. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- "Fast Track 100: 63 Jack Wills". Fast Track in assoc with Sunday Times. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- "Jack Wills Jobs". Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "Inflextion portfolio - Jack Wills".
- Ashworth, Anne (July 27, 2007). "Sloane summer essentials". The Times (London). Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- [dead link]
- "Campaign Mag Website". Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Bergin, Olivia (23 October 2012). " Victoria's Secret News". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "Aubin Gallery Official Website".
- "The Aubin Gallery". First Thursdays, Time Out. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- "Jack Wills Outlet - Homepage".
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