Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which collapsed into administration in November, has been thrown a lifeline by Pureplay retail, which has bought the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home brands out of administration. Sister company Bonmarche has also secured a life line.
The move could save some 1500 jobs and more than 200 stores, although administrators say that more than 100 stores will close and around 500 staff will be made redundant – in addition to the 866 jobs lost when the company collapsed.
Administrators at FRP said Purepay Retail, a secured creditor to the business, has now acquired all the remaining stock as well as its head office site in Carlisle. A consortium of international investors has acquired Purepay and is injecting capital into the business. Former owner, Philip Day is not part of the group.
He said in a statement: “I am pleased we have been able to play a role in securing a future for these businesses and have every confidence in them under their existing management team."
Sister company Bonmarche has also been bought out of administration by Pureplay. 72 stores under licence and 387 store staff will transfer to the acquirer, alongside all 51 head office and 93 distribution centre staff.
The remaining 148 stores are currently closed in line with Government legislation and the Administrators are reviewing all options for these sites prior to the lifting of the Government lockdown. The staff at these stores are currently furloughed.
Damian Webb, Joint Administrator and Partner at RSM Restructuring Advisory, says: "The business has been widely marketed and the sale protects the core business. Against a challenging retail environment, we are now focused on protecting the remaining estate and the associated employees."
Peacocks and Jaeger, two other fashion brands within Mr Day’s EWM group, also collapsed late last year. FRP says Peacocks remained in administration as did Jaeger Retail.
Marks & Spencer announced last week that it was in the process of buying the Jaeger brand in a deal that would see the Elite RXUK Top500 research retailer take control of the clothing company’s brand, but not any of its stores.
If M&S does gain control of the Jaeger brand, then it is another step in the company’s plan to revitalise its own ailing business through the stocking of more third-party brands.
Commenting, Richard Price, MD of M&S Clothing & Home says: “We have set out our plans to sell complementary third party brands as part of our Never the Same Again programme to accelerate our transformation and turbocharge online growth. In line with this, we have bought the Jaeger brand and are in the final stages of agreeing the purchase of product and supporting marketing assets from the administrators of Jaeger Retail Limited. We expect to fully complete later this month.”