Jigsaw boss Peter Ruis steps down, stake sale news likely this week
today Mar 5, 2018
It’s all-change at Jigsaw as the mid-market-to-luxury retail group sees the immediate departure of CEO Peter Ruis after four-and-a-half years at the helm.
Chairman Charles Atterton is stepping in and will “return to an executive role” at the firm that also lost its COO in January when Richard Gilmore left to run Fred Perry.
A story in The Telegraph also said that a stake sale could be reported this week with a new investor brought on board after months of rumours.
Ruis had joined from John lewis in 2013 and said that the decision to leave was not "taken lightly,” adding that "as I head off to my next challenge I feel immense pride in what has been achieved. The brand is well set to continue its stellar growth in the future.” He didn’t say what his next challenge would be.
Atterton, who had been joint CEO with Jigsaw’s founder John Robinson from 1997 until the arrival of Ruis, is taking control at a challenging time both for the firm and for fashion retail in general.
In recent months the company has been dogged by rumours about its future after reports that Robinson, who still holds a majority stake, had appointed KPMG to help find a buyer. There were contradictory stories saying both that Jigsaw was trading strongly but also needed to urgently find a buyer to boost its finances ahead of the key Christmas trading period.
At the time the company denied the stories and said that “at this stage no sale process is under way”. It also said it had “made no secret of the fact it is open to strategic investment to drive ongoing expansion… A number of approaches have been made and these are being discussed.”
News media said the problem wasn’t sales, but exposure to negative foreign exchange issues as well as the company’s significant investment in stores and IT that had dented its resources.
However, despite stories that it had approached Whistles, Hobbs and Phase Eight owner The Foschini Group about a potential sale, the rumoured cash crunch didn’t happen and Jigsaw said in January that it had enjoyed a good Christmas. Sales rose 7% in the five weeks to December 31, e-sales soared 34% and The Shop at Bluebird was up 16%.
It's believed that Foschini isn't the new investor, nor is Truworths, another company believed to have been interested in the firm.
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