The fashion chain J Crew is to permanently close all six of its UK stores in the latest exit by a US retailer.
The brand, known for its preppy style, has appointed FRP advisory as liquidators to its UK business, which has a head office in London and employs nearly 80 staff.
A spokesperson for J Crew said: “After a thorough review, we have determined we are best able to serve our UK customers through our global e-commerce platform and are closing our six store locations in the country. We thank our UK associates for their dedication during this unprecedented time and are working to support their transition.”
Known as one of the former first lady Michelle Obama’s favourite brands, J Crew opened a flagship store on London’s Regent Street in late 2013 shortly after testing out a small menswear shop on Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury.
The brand, and its sister label Madewell, was also taken on by the department store chain John Lewis but the relationship ended last year.
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Laura Ashley – 2,700 jobs
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J Crew’s exit from the UK comes after its parent group this month emerged from Chapter 11, the US form of bankruptcy, after winning approval for a plan to cut its debts. The brand was forced to restructure in May after falling out of favour with US shoppers who have turned to cheaper European rivals such as Zara and H&M.
The label followed a string of high-profile US rivals to the UK, including fast fashion chain Forever 21 and lingerie specialist Victoria’s Secret, both of which have put their UK arms into administration in recent years. Victoria’s Secret has now entered into a joint venture with Next, which will operate the lingerie brand’s UK stores and website.
The denim brand American Eagle pulled the plug on its UK business less than three years after arriving, while the more established retailer Toys R Us closed all its UK stores in 2018 after going into administration. Gap has also closed some of its UK stores including its entire Banana Republic chain.
US retailers have struggled to make a profit this side of the Atlantic as they face heavy competition and a very different trading environment from their domestic one.
Exporting goods to a diminutive chain in the UK, where property taxes and rents are higher, involves extra costs, so most US clothing retailers try to price UK goods at the same figure in pounds as they would in dollars back home – making prices higher once exchange rates are taken into account.
The high prices prove off-putting for UK shoppers if a brand’s product is not considered sufficiently different or high quality to justify such a premium.