'Fabulously British' clothing chain plans to set up in city
A TOP fashion retailer with a client base that includes Prince Harry and celebrities like Cheryl Cole and Geri Halliwell is planning to set up in Northern Ireland.
The move by Jack Wills comes at a time when the province has been hard hit by a string of high street closures.
Jack Wills specialises in expensive, casual clothing - its slogan is 'fabulously British' - and it has just submitted a planning application for units in central Belfast.
And typical of the company's principle of keeping the brand exclusive, you will not find it in a shopping mall or even the multi-million pound commercial and leisure development at Victoria Square.
Instead, it is looking at two units in Arthur Street which will need shop floor alterations, new awnings and the erection of window graphics.
Again, typically, the upmarket clothing brand, which has been described as the outfitter for British universities, would say little about its plans.
Jack Wills currently operates 44 stores in the UK, almost exclusively in university towns and wealthy areas of London where it targets privileged students.
It also has six stores in the US as well as outlets in Dublin and Kildare.
Earlier this year the company's latest marketing campaign fell foul of advertising guidelines after it featured naked models in its clothing catalogue.
The catalogue was subsequently banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after it was deemed "sufficiently provocative to present a risk to young teenagers".
The clothing chain also sells everything from rugby and polo sportswear to expensive jewellery and beauty products.
City councillor and former Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers said yesterday: "I'm delighted that Jack Wills is coming to Belfast because the retail trade has suffered severely from the squeeze on consumer spending."