Edinburgh Woollen Mill rescued by Philip Day and investor group
A deal has been struck to save the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home brands, with Purepay Retail, which is controlled by former owner Philip Day, buying them.
It’s unclear what’s happening at Bonmarché which was originally believed to be part of the deal. While EWM’s Peacocks chain is known to be still in administration, Bonmarché’s fate hasn’t been mentioned. However, a number of reports said it's part of the deal.
Administrators at FRP Advisory said the deal means 246 stores will be saved, along with 1,453 jobs. This includes head office and distribution centre roles, as well as store posts. And the Telegraph said that with Bonmarché included, that means 2,500 jobs will be saved and 300 stores will continue.
But 85 Edinburgh Woollen Mill shops won't reopen after the lockdown, along with 34 Ponden Home stores. Almost 500 staff have been made redundant in addition to earlier redundancies.
The administrators said they regretted that not all of the stores and jobs could be saved. FRP partner Tony Wright, said: “We have extensively marketed these businesses for sale and this transaction provides the best chance to save stores and jobs, but also meet our own statutory obligations to creditors. However, with such little visibility on future trading conditions in UK retail, we regret that not all of Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home could be rescued. This has resulted in a significant number of redundancies at a particularly challenging time of year and period of economic uncertainty.”
The deal seems to be an unusually complex one. Day’s Purepay Retail, which is a secured creditor to the business, has bought the EWM head office and all remaining stock. But Day also lined up a consortium of international investors that has acquired Purepay using money advanced by Day and that will be paid back over a number of years.
It's also been reported that existing management will stay at the helm.
EWM's Peacocks business remains in administration, as mentioned, and it's still not known what its prospects are. Some weeks ago there had been talk of a bid led by its e-commerce manager, but no progress seems to have been made on this.
The news came only a day after it emerged that M&S has bought EWM’s Jaeger brand as part of its plan to boost its fashion offer and particularly its online business.
Unfortunately, that deal won’t include the Jaeger store chain nor its concessions as M&S has its own giant store estate into which the brand can be integrated.
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