Peacocks looks set to be rescued from administration, with about 2,000 jobs saved as a result.
Today the Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) Group said it had agreed to support a bid led by Edinburgh Woollen Mill chief operating officer Steve Simpson, supported by a consortium of international investors. The investors have agreed to put up the working capital required for the business to come out of administration, while EWM Group – which previously owned Peacocks and is now a leading secured creditor – will provide a deferred loan against its own security.
The deal, says EWM, gives Peacocks “another chance” to recover from the “devastating effects” of Covid-19 on its business. It has been negotiated by Peacocks’ administrator FRP, which has continued to trade the business online while its stores have been shut during the latest furlough.
The hope is that as many as 200 branches of the discount retailer will reopen next Monday, protecting about 2,000 jobs. Currently 1,850 store staff are on furlough, while 150 staff in head office and support functions would also see their jobs saved as a result. No job losses are expected as a result of the deal.
When Cardiff-based Peacocks went into administration in November, it ran 432 shops and had 4,369 members of staff.
Peacocks went into administration at the same time as Jaeger, which then employed 347 members of staff at 76 shops and concessions. Since then the Jaeger brand has been bought by Marks & Spencer in a deal that did not include any stores.
Commenting on today’s news, Payal Hindocha, retail analyst at Emarsys, says: “The news of Peacocks’ rescue is truly welcome news for Britain’s high street and economy, saving 200 stores and 2,000 jobs. While the Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions have unquestionably been a struggle for high street stores, there is still significant demand among UK consumers for in-store shopping. According to a recent research poll from Emarsys, 74% of UK consumers miss the in-store shopping experience; with many citing the physical elements of touching items, comparing sizes and being able to try things on as key benefits.
“Our relationship with the high street is evolving and ecommerce has seen some unprecedented growth in the past year, yet clearly many consumers do still want to shop in store. It’s simply that they haven’t been able to during lockdown. With non-essential retailers reopening on April 12, Peacocks will be keen to get customers back in their stores.”