Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home stores fall into administration

Two of the four brands in high street clothing chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s (EWM) stable have fallen into administration with 866 jobs gone and a further 1,821 jobs under threat.

Administrators from FRP confirmed on Friday afternoon that 56 EWM stores have now permanently closed along with eight Ponden Home sites.

The remaining 328 EWM and 65 Ponden Home stores will continue to trade, Covid-19 restrictions permitting, whilst a buyer is sought.

Edinburgh Woolen Mill finances
Edinburgh Woolen Mill finances

However, sources close to the process say they believe a buyer is unlikely to be found and a total of 2,571 staff face losing their jobs.

Tony Wright, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said: “Recent months have proven extremely challenging for many retailers, even those that were trading well before the pandemic, including the teams at Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home.

“The administrations will provide some further protection while we continue our search for buyers to secure the long-term futures for both businesses.

“Regrettably, the impact of Covid-19 on the brands’ core customer base and tighter restrictions on trading mean that the current structure of the businesses is unsustainable and has resulted in redundancies.”

Separately, EWM Group – owned by businessman Philip Day – has been granted a further two-week extension by the High Court to continue discussions with potential suitors for its other brands Peacocks and Jaeger.

The retailer said last month that it would go bust without filing for an intention to appoint administrators with the High Court, with 24,000 jobs in the balance.

It is understood there is interest in parts of the business but a further 100 to 150 stores across the group are being earmarked for closure while talks continue with landlords on reducing rents.

Discussions on the sale of the Peacocks brand were also hit by lockdown restrictions in Wales, with the company’s headquarters and distribution centre based in Cardiff.

A spokesman for EWM Group said: “Over the past month we explored all possible options to save Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home from going into administration, but unfortunately the ongoing trading conditions caused by the pandemic and lockdowns proved too much.

“In the case of Peacocks and Jaeger we are speaking to a number of parties who are interested in either buying parts of the business or offering investment, and those conversations are ongoing.”

The company is reportedly in talks with the owner of shirt-maker TM Lewin – Torque Brands – to buy Jaeger and other parties are said to be interested.

It is also reported to be trying to save Peacocks, with a capital injection from US hedge fund Davidson Kempner.