British retailer Jaeger sees growth in Middle East

Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:08am EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British fashion retailer Jaeger is determined to trounce an economic downturn in the United States by dressing women elegantly and expanding operations in the Middle East and Australia.

The 125-year-old brand showed its Jeager London Autumn/Winter 2009 women's collection at fashion week in the British capital on Sunday evening.

"We're pleased with how we're trading, given the current environment," Chief Executive Belinda Earl told Reuters after the show. "We're not immune, but we're pleased."

Once synonymous with classic English tailoring, Jaeger was purchased by entrepreneur Harold Tillman in 2003.

Earl, previously chief executive of department store Debenhams Plc, was hired the following year and oversaw transformation of the company's image to one of eclectic style.

"We're actually seeing growth in other markets. But America is quite limited at the moment," said Earl, wearing a black-silk v-necked dress. She declined to place a figure on U.S. sales.

Jaeger has an arrangement with U.S. luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue that allows the U.S. department store to buy wholesale. The chain's parent company Saks Inc said in January it was cutting its workforce by 9 percent.

"It's not a lot happening there at the moment, because of really the difficulties they're finding in the U.S," she said.

Earl said accessories sales were holding up particularly well and that sterling's fall against both the euro and the dollar was giving Jaeger a boost. The company has 141 stores in Europe.   Continued...

<p>Jaeger CEO Belinda Earl speaks during an interview with Reuters in central London February 5, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>