Next picks up collapsed fashion chain Joules from administration | Retail industry

Next has picked up the collapsed fashion chain Joules from administration, saving more than 100 shops and hundreds of jobs, the Guardian understands.

Sources said Next placed a last-minute bid in the early hours of Thursday morning, trumping one placed by South Africa’s Foschini Group, the owner of Hobbs and Whistles.

Joules called in administrators last month, putting 1,600 jobs and the future of the retailer’s 132 shops at risk, after failing to secure emergency funding. Shops have continued to trade as administrators from Interpath Advisory said they would “assess options for the business”.

Joules, which is best known for its jackets and patterned wellington boots, has been struggling for months with falling sales. It has attributed the slower trade to the cost of living crisis and the UK’s dry and hot summerwhich reduced demand for its posh wellies.

The value of shares in Joules slumped 95% over the course of the past 12 months to 9.22p before trading was suspended and administrators were called in. At that price, the company’s market value was £10.3m, about a quarter of its value on its listing on London’s Aim junior stock market in 2016.

Tom Joule founded the company in 1989 selling branded clothing and accessories at outdoor events. After spotting the country set wanted more colourful clothes than dowdy tweeds, he introduced his own line of pink wellington bootswhich sold out immediately.

Joule, who made tens of millions of pounds from floating the company, returned as an executive director in September to try to lead a last-ditch turnaround. He said the administration was a “deeply disappointing day for Joules, and a sad day for me personally”.

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