Innovation

JAG to be snapped up by Apparel Group, but can they turn around the 41-year-old brand?

Helen Alexander /

The 41-year-old unisex apparel brand JAG has been purchased by the Apparel Group for an undisclosed sum, subject to due diligence.

The acquisition from Fusion Retail Brands, formerly Colorado Group, will see JAG join brands Sportscraft, Saba and Willow in the Apparel Group’s portfolio, under managing director Daniel Bracken.

Bracken said the company was “thrilled” to add JAG to the line-up.

“It is the perfect fit for the Apparel Group. We will use our significant experience and infrastructure to build the JAG brand into a key retail destination,” he said in a statement.

JAG was founded in 1972 and has 27 standalone stores, along with distribution in 68 Myer department stores. It has been part of Fusion Retail since 2011.

Retail Doctor Group director Brian Walker told SmartCompany the JAG brand has lost its way in recent years, but it is well known and has great brand equity, which makes it a viable fit for Apparel Group.

“Apparel Group could continue the good work that has been done on it under Fusion chief executive Don Grover,” he says.

“I don’t know if they bought it at the right multiple … but the brand is the right fit for their portfolio, it makes good sense.”

To rebuild the brand to its former glory, Walker says Apparel Group will have to do extensive consumer research, and find the “sweet spot” to attract JAG customers.

“They have to ask where was it successful, who is their core customer, who are their competitors?” he says.

He says Apparel Group should invest in JAG’s cross-channel operations, and build a consumer community around the brand.

“It has 27 stores, which is a nice, manageable portfolio, and they may fine tune these, perhaps close some if need be,” he says.

Walker says this raises the question about what further plans Fusion Retail have in store. Other businesses in the company’s portfolio include footwear labels Diana Ferrari, Williams the Shoeman, Mathers and Colorado.

The Australian Financial Review reported that the business was looking to sell the brands to a single buyer.

Fusion Retail was contacted for further details, but no reply was given prior to publication.

Formerly the Colorado Group, the company went into administration in 2010 owing over $400 million, before it was restructured as Fusion Retail Brands.

Sydney-based Apparel Group was established in the early 1950s as a manufacturing and wholesale business, and in 2000 it acquired unisex label Sportscraft, followed by Saba in 2005 and designer label Willow in 2011.

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