According to a report, troubled retail chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill may be close to being sold, potentially saving several stores and hundreds of jobs. While the buyer has not been revealed, it has been stated that sale contracts have been issued by administrator FRP Advisory to the interested party.

Although this development is seen as positive, it is believed that only a limited number of stores in the chain will be able to continue operating. Since the collapse of Edinburgh Woollen Mill in November, a significant portion of its workforce, more than a third, has already been made redundant.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill was part of the wider EWM group, established by retail tycoon Philip Day, who also owned other well-known retail brands including Peacocks, Bonmarché, Jaeger, and Austin Reed. These brands collectively had an impressive empire of 1,100 stores. Currently, the EWM group is being dismantled, with rumors suggesting that M&S might acquire Jaeger. However, there is limited information available regarding the future of the other brands within the group. Additionally, a plan to buy out Peacocks, led by its e-commerce chief, has hit a roadblock.

Philip Day still holds significant influence over the fate of these businesses, as he had previously secured £140 million in security at the group level. This security was previously held by Barclays Bank and guaranteed by various companies within the group. According to a source close to Day, the bank has demanded repayment, and Day is prepared to financially support any credible buyer for his former businesses.

Useful links:
1. The Guardian: Edinburgh Woollen Mill chain could be sold after rescue deal
2. Retail Gazette: Philip Day still influential in future of Peacocks and Austin Reed