High street retailer Next has secured a last minute deal to buy Joules, after gazumping the South African group behind Hobbs and Whistles to acquire the business out of bankruptcy.
The FTSE 100 company will take on 100 Joules stores as well as its head office in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, saving 1,450 jobs.
However, 19 stores will be closed with the loss of 133 jobs as part of a deal that Next put together with the company’s founder Tom Joule.
City sources said that Foschini Group, whose brands include Hobbs, Whistles and Phase Eight, had entered into exclusive talks with Joules’ administrators Interpath on Wednesday morning.
The period of exclusivity ended at 12pm, however. Next, which is understood to have previously tabled a lower offer, subsequently sweetened its offer yesterday afternoon to secure the deal.
Next will own a 74pc stake in the business after the deal, with Mr Joule owning the remaining 26pc share.
Mr Joule said: "After three years away from the operational side, I'm truly looking forward to inspiring teams with clear direction to excite and recapture the imagination of the customer again.
"I'm so pleased that we have been able to strike a deal that protects the future of the company for all its loyal customers, its employees and also for the town of Market Harborough, which have been so central to Joules' success."
Founded in 1989, Joules was started by Mr Joule with "one man, one tent and a lot of enthusiasm”.
The business floated on the stock exchange in 2016 for £140m after finding a niche in colourful clothing and wellington boots.
Administrators from Interpath were called in last November after executives failed to secure emergency investment.
Its administration came hot on the heels of Made.com’s bankruptcy as high street retailers grappled with significant headwinds amid the cost-of-living crisis. Next also bought Made.com's brand, domain names and intellectual property out of administration last month.
Will Wright, Interpath joint administrator, said: “We are pleased to have concluded this transaction which secures the future of this great British brand, as well as safeguarding a significant number of jobs.
“To have achieved this in such a short timetable is testament to the support we’ve received from employees, suppliers and other key stakeholders throughout the administration process, so we’d like to express our profound thanks to everyone involved.”
The list of Joules shops closing:
Northcote Road, London
Peak Village, Matlock
Salcombe Fore Street
Southwold Little Joule