Fashion store Peacocks saved from administration - but will Kent's stores all survive?


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High street fashion chain Peacocks is set for a reprieve - which could save stores and jobs across Kent.

The retailer, which was part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) empire, owned by retail mogul Philip Day, went into administration in November.

The future of many Peacocks stores is uncertain - despite 200 being saved from administration
The future of many Peacocks stores is uncertain - despite 200 being saved from administration

But it has now been saved - in part at least - by a senior executive with the backing of an international consortium.

The retailer has outlets in Thanet, Dartford, Medway, Tonbridge, Sittingbourne, Maidstone, Dover, Ashford and Sheerness.

As part of the deal - struck with chief operating officer Steve Simpson, some 200 stores and 2,000 jobs will be saved.

However, that amounts to around a half of its UK store portfolio - leaving a question mark as to which stores will reopen when the lockdown is eased. Talks are on-going with landlords.

Former owner Philip Day was the biggest creditor of Peacocks and is owed money by the business he once owned.

The former Peacocks store in Ashford - it has since been moved to within the Dobbies store
The former Peacocks store in Ashford - it has since been moved to within the Dobbies store

Administrators FRP negotiated a deal with him by signing a deferred loan agreement between a consortium of investors and the businessman which will eventually see him get his money out of the company.

The consortium of international backers are primarily based in Dubai, where Mr Day lives.

A similar deal was set in place with the EWM and Bonmarche brands, while Mr Day’s other brand, Jaeger, was sold to Marks & Spencer, where it will become an online-only business.

The deal essentially sees the EWM brands – excluding Jaeger – reform under the old management led by Mr Simpson.

Mr Day will not be in control of the business – ending several decades of involvement in the UK high street – and will hope to recoup the cash he invested as a secured creditor through the deal.

Peacocks was once part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill fashion empire. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
Peacocks was once part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill fashion empire. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

Unsecured creditors, including landlords, suppliers and the taxman, will lose out and are unlikely to get their money back.

According to reports, Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley was also said to be interested in the Peacocks brand, although administrators failed to reach an agreement with him.

Peacocks had 400 stores going into the pandemic a year ago and announced a series of job losses and store closures as it struggled to manage under the various restrictions.

The chain had a poor online presence compared with rivals and – along with Arcadia and Debenhams – struggled to recoup business through its websites, leading to its collapse.

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