Next has bought fashion retailer Joules out of insolvency, beating other high street names in a bidding war.
The high street chain called in administrators a few weeks ago, with 1,600 jobs hanging in the balance.
Now, stalwart Next has confirmed it has emerged victorious in a battle for the brand, forking out £34m for the retailer.
Around 100 stores will remain open while 1,450 jobs have been rescued.
However, 19 stores are not part of the transaction and will be closed immediately, resulting in 133 job losses.
Joules founder Tom Joule said he was looking forward to returning to leading the charge to “recapture the imagination of the customer again”, returning to an executive role.
The retail giant won against a takeover bid placed by Hobbs and Whistles owner the Foschini Group.
Next reportedly made an eleventh-hour play for the company in the early hours of Thursday morning, a report in The Guardian claimed.
Will Wright, head of restructuring at Interpath Advisory and joint administrator, described the process as “highly competitive”.
“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,” he added.
Simon Wolfson, head of Next, said he was “excited to see what can be achieved” through the combination of Joules’ products and brand with Next’s Total Platform infrastructure.
Joules is set to go live on Next’s platform in early 2024, with Next providing warehousing and distribution services for Joules’ physical stores.
The acquisition comes as Next has been on a high street shopping spree in recent weeks, having bought the Made.com brand shortly after the furniture firm collapsed earlier this autumn.
“The global interest in the Joules brand in the bidding process just goes to show what reach Next may be able to achieve internationally as well as at home,” John Coldham, retail partner at law firm Gowling WLG, noted.
The high street faces a tough winter as consumers are expected to tighten their purse strings after Christmas, in order to battle rising energy and grocery bills.
Joules was hammered by subdued sales and heavy headwinds this year, while a mild autumn dampened demand for its jumpers and boots.