Peacocks, the chain store formerly part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) empire, has been saved by its new owner, Steve Simpson, who is also the owner of Bonmarché. The retailer had experienced significant financial losses due to the pandemic and entered administration last year, resulting in the closure of approximately 200 stores and the loss of 2,000 jobs. However, the brand now plans to reopen around 200 of its remaining stores, offering a much-needed lifeline for the struggling business.

The exact number of stores that will be able to reopen remains uncertain as negotiations with landlords are still ongoing. In the retail industry, these discussions often play a crucial role in determining the fate of struggling businesses. Despite the uncertainty, Peacocks is optimistic that all of its remaining 2,000 employees will have the opportunity to return to work, which is positive news considering the challenges faced by the retail sector.

What makes the ownership structure of Peacocks intriguing is the involvement of former EWM group executive Steve Simpson and an investment consortium. Reports indicate that Simpson has received support from investors primarily based in Dubai, where Philip Day, the main creditor of Peacocks, is also located. Day has agreed to provide a deferred loan to the business to facilitate the deal, demonstrating his continued interest in the brand.

Regarding management, it is expected that the existing team will continue overseeing the operations of the business, similar to the arrangement made with Bonmarché and EWM. This sale is significant as it marks the final divestment of an EWM group chain, signifying Philip Day’s departure from direct involvement in the UK retail sector. Day, a prominent retail billionaire, has played a substantial role in the industry, and this exit represents a shift in dynamics within the retail landscape.

In conclusion, the rescue deal for Peacocks brings a ray of hope for both its employees and the remaining stores. While the exact number of reopenings is still uncertain, the support from the new owners and the commitment from the existing management point towards a positive future for the brand. Despite the challenges faced by the wider retail sector, this deal represents a step towards recovery and stability for Peacocks, providing a glimmer of hope in an otherwise uncertain industry.

Useful links:
1. Retail Gazette: Edinburgh Woollen Mill
2. BBC: Business