Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s Philip Day plots to rescue Peacocks

  • Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group owner Philip Day plots to save budget chain Peacocks
  • The fashion group filed notice of its intention to appoint administrators earlier this month
  • The deal means Peacocks would be acquired out of administration

By guest author Sahar Nazir from Retail Gazette

Captions courtesy by Retail Gazette

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM) owner Philip Day is reportedly scurrying to save value fashion retailer Peacocks and jettison the rest of the group.

Philip Day

EWM Group, which houses Peacocks, Jaeger, Austin Reed and Ponden Home, filed notice of its intention to appoint administrators earlier this month, which is due to expire on Thursday.

The deal means Peacocks would be acquired out of administration, with its worst-performing stores axed, led by EWM’s chief, Steve Simpson, and backed by Day, The The Sunday Times reported.

Peacocks has about 400 stores and would be run alongside Bonmarché, the struggling womenswear retailer fashion chain that Day acquired this year which sits outside the EWM group.

The group employs about 20000 people and traded from more than 1100 outlets before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The deal is contingent on Day securing a capital injection from US hedge fund Davidson Kempner, which would take a minority stake.

Discussions are ongoing but if a deal cannot be struck by Thursday, EWM will call for a 10-day extension at the High Court.

The proposed deal would not include the Edinburgh Woollen Mill chain, which could be liquidated unless a buyer is found.

Last week, EWM Group shut 50 stores – putting 600 people out of work – as landlords criticised the administration proposals outlined by representatives.

In a letter from representatives of the group, EWM said administrators are reviewing its lease portfolio with a view to determining which stores – if any – may be “retained and/or potentially transferred by the company”.

The company has since warned landlords that a further 100 to 150 stores will shut imminently.

British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech said that anyone reading the letter should be “outraged”.

On stores that will survive, Day has appointed property agents to hammer out new leases at vastly reduced rents.

Day has received bids for Austin Reed and Jaeger, with both brands likely to be sold.

Former Jaeger owner Harold Tillman is among the suitors circling.

Despite recent job losses, EWM Group maintained that it was trying to save as many jobs as possible.