Following on from its acquisition of Joules last year, Next has said that its technology team has made “significant progress” towards the delivery of its Total Platform (TP) offer for the brand.
As such, the company believes that it will be able to launch Joules’ TP site “much earlier than expected”, lifting its initially proposed launch date from March 2024 to October 2023.
While Next’s typical TP offer has previously been centred around providing website, warehousing, distribution, contact centres, online advertising and retail services, the UK fashion group said that the scope of its planned services for Joules would be “significantly wider”.
Next to the initial features, the system will also include a series of product and freight planning arrangements, such as budgeting, contracting management and imports. It will also cover finance, payments and accounting systems, as well as HR systems, all of which will be provided to Joules on a cost-plus basis.
In the meantime, Joules will remain an independent business with its own marketing team and board and will continue to be led by founder Tom Joule, alongside its own team focused on product, marketing and brand development.
Cost savings higher than anticipated, but jobs are put at risk
Next first acquired a 74 percent stake in Joules in December 2022, lifting the British heritage brand out of administration after it struggled against pandemic restrictions and shifting consumer habits.
In light of the accelerating plans, Next said that it would be able to save more than anticipated on costs, raising the expectations of the promise it made when it acquired the label, with the full benefit of such savings to become evident in the beginning of 2024.
In a press release, the company said: “We had always intended that TP would deliver material cost savings to Joules.
“Following the decision to deliver much broader services to Joules, we are now planning for those savings to be significantly greater than originally anticipated.”
Despite Next’s positivity surrounding the relaunch plans, the retail group did note that such decisions would affect some jobs.
The statement continued: “As a result of these changes, a number of tasks performed by Joules personnel will be absorbed into Next teams or no longer be needed.
“Joules is in the process of consulting with colleagues to let them know how they will be affected.”
Next said that for those whose roles are no longer required, it would be working to ensure they are considered for suitable vacancies at its head office.