Jeckerson to launch womenswear, ramp up advertising and boost presence
Italian trouser brand Jeckerson is in expansion mode again and is set to move into womenswear, as well as revamping its stores, launching a marketing campaign and introducing artist collaborations.
The activity comes after the 22-year-old brand, which is owned by UK private equity firm Stirling Square Capital Partners, recently completed a lengthy debt restructuring operation which reduced its corporate debt, estimated at around €90 million.
"When [Jeckerson] was acquired by Stirling Square in 2008, on the eve of the international financial crisis, banks were heavily involved in the operation," said the company's CEO Gian Maria Argentini, speaking at a press conference on May 31 at the brand's Milan showroom.
The international economic situation after 2008 meant it struggled until, in 2015, it sought institutional arrangements with creditors aimed at continuing operations. Jeckerson, known for its casual trousers featuring decorative patches, managed to remain in business and to honour all its commitments to strategic suppliers, thanks also to fresh injections of cash from Stirling Square.
By arrangement with the court, Jeckerson's debt with its former owner was written off, and that with several banks and non-strategic suppliers was written off almost entirely, a small part of it being swapped for non-voting shares in the company. Argentini said: "83% of [Jeckerson's] creditors voted in favour of this solution."
Jeckerson is now ready to invest and grow again, its first priority being marketing and communications. "We always were a product-oriented company, said Argentini, now we want to invest in our brand, earmarking between 5% and 7% of revenue in multi-channel communication initiatives, including advertising on magazines, social media and other digital channels."
The signature Jeckerson trouser patch will feature in the new advertising, for example through the 'Follow the Patch' project: several artists will be called on to offer their take on current topics selected by Jeckerson. Their creations will then be transformed into patches using printing, embroidery or innovative fabrics. The first to be involved in the project were calligraphy artists Daniele Tozzi and Luca Barcellona, who on May 12 and 13 added their creative touch to the shop windows of Jeckerson's Milan store and to a series of T-shirts.
Jeckerson is also busy on the product and distribution fronts. In addition to the existing, licensed brand extensions in childrenswear and beachwear, the brand is planning to launch another trouser-focused collection, this time targeting women. "We are working on a women's collection, which will be designed by the Gallieri Venneri agency from Spring/Summer 2018, while the men's collection is managed by the Mauro Ravizza Krieger agency. We decided to keep the two collections separate in styling terms, because our women's range, a growth opportunity for us, must have a clearly defined, independent identity," said Argentini.
From the retail point of view, in August Jeckerson will start making over its monobrand stores, beginning with the one in Milan. "We are not planning on a standardised retail concept, the stores will be adapted to their individual premises and context, with one common element: products will take centre stage," added Argentini.
Geographically, Jeckerson intends to focus on its domestic market, Italy, during the initial relaunch phase, without neglecting the US, where the label is already present in some 15 high-end stores, its preferential target market. "We may in future consider opening a series of monobrand stores in the USA," concluded Argentini.
In 2016, Jeckerson generated revenue of €30 million, and it now forecasts the same result for 2017, while planning to top the €40 million mark in 2020. Once Jeckerson is profitable again, there is the possibility that Stirling Square Capital Partners will decide to put the company up for sale.
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