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Marks & Spencer snaps up upmarket brand Jaeger

But chief executive Rowe 'doesn't want to create a department store'


Closed: the former site of Jaeger in Belfast’s city centre

Closed: the former site of Jaeger in Belfast’s city centre

Closed: the former site of Jaeger in Belfast’s city centre

High street giant Marks & Spencer has bought upmarket fashion brand Jaeger following its collapse last autumn.

The retail bellwether is expected to buy the intellectual property only, allowing M&S to sell Jaeger-branded goods on its website as a third-party brand.

M&S did not disclose the amount paid but it is understood to be around £5m.

The deal means no store staff from Jaeger are expected to keep their jobs and all physical sites - closed due to lockdown restrictions - are expected to stay shut permanently.

The company formerly operated a store in Belfast's Arthur Street. But that unit was closed down, with a plan to relocate to Victoria Square in Belfast. However, the move never took place.

The former Arthur Street Jaeger is now occupied by trendy retailer Oliver Bonas.

Jaeger was placed into administration alongside sister firm Peacocks in November by Dubai-based owner and retailer Philip Day.

The tycoon's EWM Group had already called in administrators for its Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home business earlier in November.

Last week there was hope from FRP Advisory, administrator for the businesses, as it issued sale contracts to a potential buyer for 400 stores trading under the Edinburgh Woollen Mill brand.

However, it is unlikely to save many stores from closure, adding to the almost one-third of its 2,571 employees already made redundant.

The move to buy up Jaeger would fit with M&S's new strategy of selling third-party brands, with existing tie-ups with the likes of Nobody's Child and Ghost.

It is also thought to be among those in the running for some of Sir Philip Green's collapsed Arcadia Group brands, such as Topshop.

Last week at the firm's Christmas trading update, chief executive Steve Rowe explained the rationale behind teaming up and buying new brands.

He said: "M&S wants to build a curated set of brands and merchandise largely for our online business but also through filling some of that excess space we have in stores.

"We've got no intention of turning M&S into a department store at all. This is about finding and partnering with adjacent brands. Adjacent in terms of style, adjacent in terms of customer base that enhance the M&S offer and make it the place to go to for an online shop."

The deal comes as M&S also revealed it is one of a number of food retailers struggling to get to grips with complex new rules on exports following the signing of a post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU.

Mr Rowe said the retailer has found problems around "point of origin" rules, leading to stores on the island of Ireland missing key M&S food products.

He insisted the problems will be resolved over time.

According to a list first revealed by the News Letter last Friday, Marks & Spencer has paused deliveries to Northern Ireland of up to 400 items as diverse as whole cooked lobsters, spiced Easter biscuits and four-packs of gin and tonic.

On its supply issues in NI, M&S said that "following the UK's recent departure from the EU, we are transitioning to new processes and we're working closely with our partners and suppliers to ensure customers can continue to enjoy a great range of products".

"We have served customers in Northern Ireland for over 50 years and our priority is to make sure we continue to deliver the same choice and great quality range that our loyal customers have always enjoyed."

Gaps have also been reported in M&S shelves in the Republic of Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph