07 Nov Edinburgh Woollen Mill collapse puts 2,000 jobs in jeopardy
More than 2,000 jobs are at risk after the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home chains collapsed into administration yesterday having failed to secure buyers.
Administrators at FRP acting for the parent Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group have agreed a two-week extension with the High Court to thrash out rescues for the Peacocks and Jaeger fashion labels.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill, founded in 1947, has 284 stores and 2,571 staff in Britain. Ponden Home has 73 shops and 329 employees. Administrators have made 750 people redundant at Edinburgh Woollen Mill and 116 at Ponden Home. The retailers will continue to trade online and from their shops during the administration.
The closure is a dramatic turn for Philip Day, the group’s owner. The retail tycoon built a £1.14 billion fortune, according to The Sunday Times Rich List, on the back of swooping on struggling retailers. The group, which made a £24.3 million profit after tax last year, was badly affected by the pandemic and most of its shops remained shut even after the national lockdown was lifted.
Tony Wright, joint administrator at FRP, said: “Recent months have proven challenging for many retailers, even those that were trading well before the pandemic, including the teams at Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home. The administrations will provide some further protection while we continue our search for buyers to secure the long-term futures for both businesses.”
An extension period has been granted to continue talks with prospective buyers for Peacocks and Jaeger, but a lack of interest in Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden, the homewares seller, led to them going into administration.
“We are devastated that this time has come and we assure you that we will do everything we can to work with the administrators to save as many jobs as possible,” the company told staff in an email seen by The Times.
A charge was registered against the group in March and August this year, which makes Mr Day a secured lender, meaning that he will be first in the queue of creditors to recover debts. Industry sources believe that Mr Day is working on a plan to buy Jaeger and Peacocks out of administration.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group said: “In the case of Peacocks and Jaeger, we are speaking to a number of parties who are interested in either buying parts of the business or offering investment.”
Mr Day has the option to buy back the business, shorn of its liabilities, an approach that has attracted criticism when taken previously with Jaeger and Bonmarché.