Jobs and stores rescued in deal to buy retail group from administrators

Philip Day
X The Business Desk

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More than 1,400 jobs have been saved with the acquisition out of administration of Carlisle-based Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

Joint administrators at FRP Advisory said the deal with Purepay Retail Limited, which is backed by an international investor consortium, saves 1,453 jobs and 246 stores.

However, they also confirmed that 119 stores have permanently closed and 485 staff made redundant. These are in addition to 866 job losses announced when the group collapsed last November.

The group, owned by Stockport-born Philip Day, was put into administration last November, due to the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on high street trading.

Today’s rescue includes the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Ponden Homes and Bonmarché chains.

Earlier today it emerged that fashion brand Jaeger, also part of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, has been bought by Marks & Spencer in a deal estimated to be £5m. It does not involve any of the brand’s stores or concessions.

The joint administrators said that Purepay, a secured creditor to EWM, has acquired all the remaining stock as well as the head office site in Carlisle.

Purepay will operate 246 stores under licence from across both brands.

The corresponding 1,347 store staff will transfer to the acquirer, alongside all 72 head office and 34 distribution staff.

The remaining 85 Edinburgh Woollen Mill stores and 34 Ponden Home stores have been permanently closed.

The roles from these stores, including 358 Edinburgh Woollen Mill staff and 127 Ponden Home staff, have been made redundant.

Tony Wright, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said: “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.”

Jaeger Retail Limited and Peacocks Stores Limited remain in administration.