Retail billionaire Philip Day is reportedly considering repurchasing the budget fashion chain Peacocks, following the company’s administration filing. The plan would involve the creation of a new entity focused solely on the best-performing Peacocks branches, potentially led by EWM CEO Steve Simpson. US hedge fund Davidson Kempner is also expected to have a minority stake in the deal.

EWM, the parent company that owns brands like Jaeger and Austin Reed, has filed a notice of intent to appoint administrators, granting temporary protection from creditor action. The company has 10 days to devise a recovery plan, with a deadline of Thursday, although an extension may be sought.

The proposed recovery plan for Peacocks could potentially put many jobs at risk. The larger EWM group operates 1,100 stores and employs 21,000 individuals. Last week, the closure of 50 stores resulted in 600 job losses, and there is speculation that an additional 150 stores may close in the upcoming weeks. It is unclear how many Peacocks stores would be included under the new entity.

Meanwhile, it is believed that Bonmarché, another brand controlled by Philip Day through a separate company, would continue to operate independently of the EWM Group.

The future of EWM’s other brands remains uncertain. Edinburgh Woollen Mill is up for sale and could face liquidation if a suitable buyer is not found. However, the company was profitable prior to the pandemic, which may attract potential investors. According to reports from the Sunday Times, Day has already received bids for Austin Reed and Jaeger, with former Jaeger owner Harold Tillman rumored to be among the interested parties.

Overall, the restructuring and possible buyback of Peacocks by Philip Day, along with the uncertainties surrounding EWM’s other brands, underscore the challenges faced by the retail industry during these unprecedented times. The outcome of these developments will have significant implications for the employees and stakeholders involved.

Useful links:
BBC: Billionaire retail tycoon ‘considers’ Peacocks buyback
Sky News: Retail billionaire ‘considers’ buying back Peacocks