Next has partnered with Tom Joule to acquire the majority of Joules' assets out of administration, via a newly formed company for £34m (to be settled in cash).
The retailer has also acquired Joules' current head office for £7m cash.
Next says it intends to continue to operate a significant number of Joules stores (around 100 of 124) in the UK and Ireland, subject to agreeing terms with landlords. A total of 19 stores will be closed by the administrator today.
Next will own 74% of the equity, with the remaining 26% owned by Tom Joule.
Joules will retain its management autonomy and creative independence – the company will have its own board of directors, and will continue to be based in Market Harborough. Next says that most Joules staff will remain with the business, which will migrate onto the Next Total Platform over time.
Joules was founded in 1989 by Tom Joule, who passed accountability for design to Joules' creative teams in 2019, moving to a non-executive director role. He recently stepped back into an executive role as product director, and intends, upon completion of the proposed transaction, to take the lead in re-establishing the identity of both brand and product.
Jonathon Brown was appointed CEO of Joules in 2022, and will remain in that role.
Joules' websites and online operations, both in the UK and overseas, will be operated through Next's Total Platform, which will also provide warehousing and distribution services for Joules' retail, franchise, wholesale and concession businesses, all of which will continue to be operated by Joules. It is anticipated that Joules will go live on Next's Total Platform in early 2024.
Next's chief executive, Simon Wolfson, says: "We are excited to see what can be achieved through the combination of Joules' exceptional product, marketing and brand-building skills with Next's Total Platform infrastructure."
Tom Joule says: "After three years away from the operational side, I'm truly looking forward to inspiring teams with clear direction to excite and recapture the imagination of the customer again. Our customers have always trusted us to lead, not follow, with products that reflect their lifestyle. It's important that we live up to the high standards they desire in design, quality and, with Next's Total Platform delivery and customer support proposition, the service they expect.
"I'm so pleased that we have been able to strike a deal that protects the future of the company for all its loyal customers, its employees and also for the town of Market Harborough, which have been so central to Joules' success."
Will Wright, head of restructuring at Interpath Advisory, and joint administrator, adds: "We are pleased to have concluded this transaction, which secures the future of this great British brand, as well as safeguarding a significant number of jobs. To have achieved this in such a short timetable is testament to the support we've received from employees, suppliers and other key stakeholders throughout the administration process, so we'd like to express our profound thanks to everyone involved."
The acquisiton follows Next's purchase of Made.com Design's brand assets last month, for which it paid £3.4m (see related).