Jul 5, 2018
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Calvetron administrator can't find buyer, Jacques Vert and other brands to close

Jul 5, 2018

The long-running story around the decline of what once were some of the most important brands in UK womenswear looks like it's reaching its end with administrators having failed to find a buyer for Calvetron Brands.

Jacques Vert

The company owns the Jacques Vert, Windsmoor and Precis brands that are sold through department stores and its decline mirrors that of many of the UK department stores on which it has depended for so long.

The administrators are set to wind it down with 590 UK and Ireland jobs to be lost as a result. They will be made up of 500 retail jobs and 90 Head office posts. Another 250 jobs will go in Canada where the company has an outerwear-focused business.

Calvetron had been in trouble for some time but following a restructuring/rescue deal last summer, there had been some hope that it could turn itself around. However it entered administration in May and 400 jobs had already been lost before the new announcement.

It's the latest in a series of company failures and CVAs that have seen the retail sector shedding jobs at its fastest rate in years. While some of this is due to the uncertain UK economy, much of it is down to fundamental changes in consumer behaviour. UK shoppers have migrated online faster than shoppers in most other countries.

And they’re also buying much less ‘traditional’ womenswear, preferring instead to tap into the casualwear trend. Calvetron has suffered as the solid, reliable market of classic customers it once enjoyed has dwindled, with middle-aged women now preferring cooler brands such as Mint Velvet, the raft of own-brands offered by chains such as John Lewis or the lower prices they can find at labels like JD Williams. That factor also caused problems for other UK labels such as Jaeger and Country Casuals.

Calvetron had sold its ranges from 300 concessions in department stores, including Debenhams and House of Fraser. But as we know, both of those chains have been seeing reduced footfall in recent periods with House of Fraser planning to close more than half its stores and Debenhams looking to give more space to younger, on-trend brands.

The Calvetron business had been founded originally in 1972 (not under that name) by Jack Cynamon and Alan Green, who added a French element derived from their own names to the label they created in 1977, Jacques Vert.

It was a powerful company at one point and was even listed on the London Stock Exchange, but has struggled in recent years.

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