Edinburgh Woollen Mill granted 10-day extension in bid to avoid collapse

By Simon Neville, PA City Editor
·2-min read

High street clothing chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM), which also owns Peacocks and Jaeger, has been granted a further 10 working days to speak to potential suitors and work on a rescue plan.

The retailer said earlier this month that it would go bust without filing for an intention to appoint administrators with the High Court, with 24,000 jobs in the balance.

Since then, bosses have started closing 50 stores with 600 job losses, while they work through securing backing for the rest of the business.

According to a memo seen by the PA news agency, there is interest in parts of the business, understood to be the Peacocks and Jaeger brands.

However, it is understood a further 100 to 150 stores across the group are being earmarked for closure while talks continue with landlords.

Discussions on the sale of the Peacocks brand were also hit by lockdown restrictions in Wales, with the company’s headquarters and distribution centre based in Cardiff.

Edinburgh Woolen Mill finances
A notice on the door of a closed Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop in Princes Street, Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Bosses wrote to staff on Friday morning, warning them that the national and local lockdowns had hit sales very heavily.

In a note written to staff, seen by PA, the company said it had been a challenging time and thanked workers for their efforts.

It said: “Two weeks ago we wrote to you to say that we had applied to the High Court to protect the group from creditors for a short time, while we worked on a longer term plan to rescue as much of it as possible from the devastating effects of Covid-19 and the lockdowns.

“Since then we have been working on that plan and have made good progress, but it is a complex and difficult process.

“We are speaking to a number of parties who are interested in either buying parts of the business or offering investment.

“What is clear is that this process will mean a lot of change for all of us and inevitably a significant number of store closures.

“We are pleased to say though that today the High Court has agreed to extend the breathing space for another two weeks to give us more time to work on the details and further pursue these opportunities.

“We will use this time as best we can to protect the businesses and save jobs.”

The company, owned by businessman Philip Day, is in talks with the owner of shirt-maker TM Lewin – Torque Brands – to buy Jaeger, according to reports by Sky News, and other parties are said to be interested.

Mr Day is also reported to be trying to save Peacocks, with a capital injection from US hedge fund Davidson Kempner.