What went wrong for Jaeger, as collapse puts jobs at risk in King’s Lynn and Norwich
- Credit: IAN BURT
Jaeger's history stretches all the way back to the 1880s, when Dr Jaeger first extolled the health benefits of wearing wool.
Mourning the brand's demise on fashion website Draper's today, its former brand director Shailina Parti says: 'Wool and luxury fibres became synonymous with the Jaeger brand through the last 133 years. Jaeger had the quality of understated confidence, which used to be known but rarely referred to as good taste.'
Yesterday, the firm went into administration after attempts to sell it failed.
Eighty jobs are at risk at Jaeger's distribution centre in King's Lynn, while it also has concession in Jarrold, in Norwich.
When it moved its warehouse from the Hardwick Industrial Estate to a new site in North Lynn, in 2006, staff found boxes of clothing dating all the way back to the 1920s.
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They included woollen long johns and vests, an example of the type of no-nonsense underwear that made the British Empire. There were heavy woollen dressing gowns dating back to pre-central heating days. There were also proverbial 'little black dresses' from the 1960s, when the chain dressed the likes of Vivienne Leigh, Marilyn Monroe and Twiggy.
It was one of the first designer labels, renowned for its timeless, classic style. So where did it all go wrong? 'Global rivals arrived in the UK and, alongside rising rents and fierce competition, the downward spiral of promotional activity started to devalue the brand,' said Shailina Parti, who left in 2014 to join fashion house Jigsaw. 'The challenge to drive profit margins may have compromised the product.'
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West Norfolk council's portfolio holder for economic development Nick Daubney said shopping habits had changed since the days when Jaeger was a High Street icon.
Today, its website was advertising for a web trader to boost its digital sales activity from its London head office.
'A world class, contemporary British fashion and lifestyle Brand, Jaeger has a rich history and dynamic future built on womenswear, menswear and accessories,' it said.
Jaeger's future remains unclear after failed attempts to sell the business. While most of its 46 stores and 63 concessions - which employ 680 staff - are expected to close, industry insiders expect the name to live on. Some predict its future lies online, rather than in bricks and mortar.