Belinda Earl, the respected retailer who has turned Jaeger from frumpy to fashionable, has stepped aside from her role as chief executive of Jaeger and Aquascutum for health reasons.

Ms Earl, the former chief executive of Debenhams, has transformed Jaeger from classic to cutting edge since she was recruited by owner Harold Tillman in 2004.

One of the most high-profile women in British retail, she has also been chief executive of Aquascutum since Mr Tillman acquired the business almost three years ago.

People familiar with the situation said she was focusing on her recovery, and would remain a non-executive director of the business.

Carolyn Springett, who has taken on the role of managing director of Jaeger, has begun a review of the business. It is understood that up to 20 head office roles could be affected by a review of the future direction of the chain.

The changes come at a delicate time for Jaeger and Aquascutum, as conditions on the high street continue to be challenging.

Ms Earl also owns 20 per cent of Broadwick, the holding company for Jaeger and Aquascutum.

Mr Tillman tried to sell Jaeger a year ago, but the process came to nothing.

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