|Founded||1999 (Salcombe, Devon)|
Peter Williams |
Number of locations
United Arab Emirates
|Suzanne Harlow (interim CEO)|
|Revenue||£421 million (2014–15)|
|£72.1 million (2014–15)|
Number of employees
Jack Wills is a British clothing brand. The main colours the brand is recognised for are navy and pink.
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 said "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 being opened in Fulham, London, in October the same year. The store was ram-raided and was closed down, but a further store was opened in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. As the business grew, Jack Wills stores were opened in places with 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.
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 2012, Williams debuted on the Sunday Times Rich List, coming in at number 370, with an estimated worth of £200 million ($326 million). In May 2013, Williams announced he was stepping aside as CEO to become a non-executive director. Former chief marketing officer of Vodafone, Wendy Becker, was appointed as CEO soon afterwards.
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. As of 2015, Williams was reinstated as working CEO on the board after the departure of Becker. Richard Nicoll also parted ways with the company amicably in autumn 2015.
Since the first store opened in Salcombe, Jack Wills stores have opened across the United Kingdom and internationally. There are currently (as of September 2016) approx. 70 stores in the UK, including 8 in London, 4 in Scotland (Edinburgh, St Andrews, Aberdeen and Glasgow), two in Wales (Abersoch and Cardiff), two in the Channel Islands (St Peter Port and St Helier), and one in Northern Ireland (Belfast). There are also six outlet stores across the UK; Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, Bicester, Halifax, Cheshire Oaks, Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet and Wembley in London.
The most recent store to open in the UK is in Chelmsford.
In December 2011, Jack Wills debut in Hong Kong with the launch of two stores, in Leighton Centre at Causeway Bay and in Harbour City mall at Kowloon. In November 2014, Jack Wills launched its first store in Singapore at Raffles City Shopping Centre with an opening party.
Jack Wills' products are branded with the signature logo of a pheasant with a top hat and walking stick. The company publishes 'Handbooks', which are released four times a year for each new season. The handbook is a signature print catalogue for the brand, showcasing the campaign shoots alongside editorial work and products available for the new season. Jack Wills clothing ranges from traditional British formal wear and tailoring, such as shirts, tweed jacket sand blazers, to more contemporary casual clothing: hooded tops, sweatpants, t-shirts and polo shirts.
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."
Aubin and 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 to concentrate on the global growth of the principal brand, with all trading ceasing by January 2013.
The Aubin Gallery and 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." However there are various outlet shops, such as Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.
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- [dead link]
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