Edinburgh Woollen Mill and its sister company Ponden Home today went into administration, with the loss of more than 860 jobs – and putting more than 2,000 more jobs at risk. Both retailers will now continue to trade online, subject to ongoing lockdown restrictions, as administrators look for buyers.
Their sister companies Peacocks and Jaeger have been given two more weeks by the High Court to find a buyer.
Today’s news means that 750 people have been made redundant at Edinburgh Woollen Mill, and 116 at Ponden Home. It comes soon after 56 Edinburgh Woollen Mill shops and eight Ponden Home stores and concessions were closed permanently.
Before those closures, Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM), founded in 1947, had 384 shops and employed 2,571 people, and Ponden Home had 73 shops and employed 329 people. If buyers are not found all those jobs could be at risk. EWM now has 328 shops and Ponden has 75. It is not clear whether any more shops will close permanently, although those in England and Wales are now shut for second lockdowns.
Both retailers have both struggled in a trading environment where, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, older shoppers and international tourists have stayed at home, and are in any case less likely to buy online.
Administrators from FRP Advisory were appointed yesterday.
Tony Wright, joint administrator and partner at FRP Advisory, said today: “Recent months have proven extremely 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.
“Regrettably, the impact of Covid-19 on the brands’ core customer base and tighter restrictions on trading mean that the current structure of the businesses is unsustainable and has resulted in redundancies. We are working with all affected members of staff to provide the appropriate support.”
EWM Group and its other subsidiaries, including Jaeger and Peacocks, are not part of the administration. The wider group is owned by Philip Day and his family and, before today’s announcement, employed about 24,000 people.
A spokesperson for EWM Group said: “Over the past month we explored all possible options to save Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home from going into administration, but unfortunately the ongoing trading conditions caused by the pandemic and lockdowns proved too much. It is with a heavy heart we acknowledge there is no alternative but to place the businesses into administration. We will continue to do all we can to support FRP Advisory in trying to secure the best outcome possible for these businesses in these sad circumstances.
“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, and those conversations are ongoing. We are pleased that today the High Court has agreed to extend the breathing space for those companies for another two weeks to give us more time to work on the details and further pursue these opportunities.”