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Jaeger and Peacocks owner given 10-day respite to avoid collapse

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop in Oxford which is closing down. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop in Oxford which is closing down. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM), the owner of high street brand Jaeger and Peacocks has been granted a 10-day extension to work on a rescue plan and speak to potential suitors.

The high street clothing chain announced earlier this month that it would collapse without filing for an intention to appoint administrators with the High Court. A move which puts 24,000 jobs at risk.

At the time EWM said that all its stores would continue trading adding that “significant changes” were expected.

Since then bosses at the retailer have started to close 50 stores — resulting in 600 job losses — while they work through securing backing for the rest of the business.

Over the weekend owner, Philip Day held crunch talks to salvage his retail empire and save it from being seized by administrators.

Earlier this month, the high-street billionaire was seeking a capital injection from one of the world’s biggest hedge fund, Davidson Kempner, to save Peacocks.

The company is also said to be holding talks with the owner of shirt-maker TM Lewin, Torque Brands (TQLB), to buy Jaeger, according to Sky News, with other parties also interested.

READ MORE: Jaeger and Peacocks owner on brink of collapse putting 24,000 UK jobs at risk

According to a note seen by PA, bosses thanked staff for their efforts and warned them of the challenging time.

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.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus pushes 11,120 UK shops to close

The UK’s services sector, which included retail, hotels, banks and restaurants has been hammered by the impact of COVID-19 and national lockdowns. The industry, which amounts to almost 80% of the UK’s economy has seen store closures and hundreds of thousands of job losses.

It comes after a study by the Local Data Company (LDC) and PwC UK showed that the first half of this year saw a record number of store closures in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According figures, 11,120 chain operator outlets have shut so far this year, while 5,119 shops opened. This means a net decline of 6,001 — almost double the decline tracked in 2019.

But, the count could be higher as researchers did not take into account shops which have yet to reopen following the COVID-19 lockdown, with the grim expectation that many will never operate again.

Watch: What is the Job Support Scheme and how has it changed?