Edinburgh Woollen Mill to create 1,100 jobs


Economic downturn

The rehabilitation of fashion chain Peacocks continued today under plans by its new owner to create more than 1,100 jobs over the next 18 months.

Retail business Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which bought the chain out of administration in March 2012, said around 100 of the new posts will be created at Peacocks as part of the revival of the 440-store brand.

The Langholm-based retailer, which also owns Ponden Home and has a total workforce of 12,000 at around 1,000 shops, said its pre-tax profits trebled to £56.7 million in the year to March, on sales of £566.7 million.

The group has so far invested £80 million in Peacocks by refocusing the brand and building its online presence. The strategy delivered a double digit increase in like-for-like sales in the year to March 2 and has secured more than 6,000 UK jobs.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill now expects to open one new Peacocks store a week in the UK over the first eight weeks of next year.

And with 93 Peacocks sites overseas, it is looking at "robust international markets" such as Germany, the Middle East and Russia.

The chain, previously owned by hedge funds Och-Ziff and Perry Capital, collapsed after struggling with around £240 million of debt.

Privately-owned Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group plans to add 30 stores to its wider portfolio in the first half of 2014, reaching more than a thousand in total.

Steve Simpson, its commercial director, said: "UK retail remains a tough environment and we are focused on serving customers who are seeking value at a time of reduced discretionary spend but who will not compromise on quality."

Like-for-like sales for the whole group's underlying business increased by 1.2% over the year, with online sales up 57.5%. It opened 56 new stores in total during the period to create 920 jobs.