Alarm bells are ringing for other retailers following the news that the UK’s up-market fashion chain Jaeger collapsed into administration this week.
Administrators were appointed after the British retailer’s directors had failed to find a suitable buyer for the business’s 46 stores and 63 concessions.
Founded in 1884, Jaeger has counted Marilyn Monroe, the model Twiggy and the Duchess of Cambridge among its fans, but has struggled to keep up with rivals such as Burberry or see off competition from fast-fashion chains including Zara and H&M.
The overall value of UK retail sales dropped by 2% in 2016 compared with 2015, according to consumer insight company Kantar Worldpanel, which told the BBC recently that many retailers have been “left behind” as buyng patterns have changed.
“These companies are stuck in a rigid, seasonal buying cycle which no longer reflects how consumers shop,” said Glen Tooke, consumer insights director at Kantar.
Analysts have been commenting that Jaeger has struggled to understand its core clientele, and by relying too heavily on special offers, (recently estimated to account for three quarters of its sales), has undermined its own reputation for quality.
Simon Brennan, of the customer engagement solutions company, Engage Hub, comments that retailers can meet the challenge of the digital era by personalising the customer experience, using data to target highly personalised offers and keeping communication lines open with customers 24/7.
Graham Soult, owner of retail consultancy CannyInsights, echoed those thoughts.
“It sounds obvious, but the fashion retailers that are doing well right now are the ones that are managing to keep all the balls in the air at once – having the right product, at the right price, in the right place, at the right time,” he told the BBC.
“It’s where chains like Uniqlo and Zara benefit from controlling their own supply chains, and being really agile in getting new stock into store quickly when it’s needed.
“At the same time, some of the online fashion retailers, such as Boden, are great at mixing selected seasonal pieces with timeless items that can be layered or accessorised, and sold and worn throughout the year,” he added.