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Jack Wills scraps plans to float as founder returns to the helm

2 min read

28 August 2015

It said that the board and shareholders of Jack Wills had decided not to pursue an IPO after “a detailed review of growth opportunities”, and that current boss Wendy Becker had decided to step down as a result.

Preppy fashion brand Jack Wills’ move to shelf plans to float its business, saw the return of founder Peter Williams.

The chain, that boasts the claims of having its clothes worn by Prince Harry as well as well-to-do students, said Williams was returning to the role of chief executive only two years after leaving the firm.

This means that current CEO Wendy Becker will leave the company.

She said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Jack Wills and, as a member of the board, fully agree with the decision not to press ahead with an IPO at this moment.”

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However it is reported that Becker, a former Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse executive, had been keen on keeping the group’s London IPO on track, despite recent market volatility, but was over-ruled by members of the Jack Wills board.

Williams, who still owns 70 per cent of the group with fellow founder and friend Robert Shaw, said: “I would like to thank Becker for her significant contribution to the business and for putting in place the people and the processes that will enable us to continue our growth.”

The decision to pull the float is the latest in a chain of fashion retailers who had planned to list before changing direction. 

That list includes Fat Face, which ditched its plans in 2014 because of choppy market conditions, New Look, which was snapped up private equity firm Brait and House of Fraser bought by China’s Sanpower Group.

Jack Wills was launched in 1999 in Salcombe, Devon, targeted at the ‘university crowd’. It has 80 stores including in iconic uni towns Oxford and Cambridge as well as Ivy League campuses at Harvard and Yale.