Opinion

Can Jack Wills be revitalised?

07 August, 2019 Share socially

The demise of Jack Wills tracks alongside that of similar brands of a certain era, most notably Hollister and Superdry.

While Hollister and Superdry are undergoing rapid course correction (with a repositioning at Hollister to move the brand beyond logos and brighten up stores, and at Superdry the old co-founder Julian Dunkerton is back on board to return the brand to health), it seems that Jack Wills has been caught sleeping. Their stores feel like a step back in time: heavy with promotional signage and cluttered with overly logoed product.

Where did it go wrong? You might point the finger at its ‘Britishness’. Arguably, ‘Brand Britain’ has been on the wane in recent years, but that hasn’t fazed the likes of Hunter and Burberry from playing a strong game. Admittedly, Jack Wills is a mass market brand, but there are lessons which can be learnt from the luxury players, most notably: keep up with trends, the consumer and their expectations of store experience.

From a trend perspective, the Jacks Wills offer feels out of sync with the times. While there’s been a shift towards both sportswear and sharper tailoring on the high street, they’ve carried on offering joggers and collegiate prep-wear. The consumer has moved on, the brand has not.

On a recent visit despite the greeter’s cheery hello, the store was lacking a point of view beyond mere product. There was no centre of gravity, nothing for the customer to be drawn towards, nor any place to just spend time.

The store experience feels tired and unremarkable. On a recent visit despite the greeter’s cheery hello, the store was lacking a point of view beyond mere product. There was no centre of gravity, nothing for the customer to be drawn towards, nor any place to just spend time.

As Mark Pilkington notes in his book Retail Therapy, today it’s essential for stores to create theatre that the internet cannot match and for them to be third spaces for the brand’s community to gather. Jack Wills needs to address these critical aspects before it’s too late.

Excerpts of this article feature in Retail Gazette. Read the news article here.