Peacocks stores to be saved in last minute deal

The Peacocks store in Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A last minute deal to save around half of Peacocks stores Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Peacocks clothing stores across Suffolk could be saved after a last minute bid for the fast fashion chain.

The firm had around 400 stores when it fell into administration in November these included branches in Ipswich, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Harwich and Haverhill.

Now the company will be taken over by one of its bosses with backing from an international consortium, saving 200 of its stores and all of its staff.

It is hoped that all 1,850 of the firm's furloughed shop staff will return to work as stores will reopen once lockdown restrictions ease. More than 150 office based staff will also return from furlough.

Chief operating officer Steve Simpson will take over the business which was part of retail mogul Philip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) fashion empire which collapsed in November last year.

Mr Day was the biggest creditor of Peacocks and is owed money by the business he once owned.

Administrators FRP negotiated a deal with him by signing a deferred loan agreement between a consortium of investors and the businessman which will eventually see him get his money out of the company.

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The consortium of international backers are primarily based in Dubai, where Mr Day lives.

A similar deal was set in place with the EWM and Bonmarche brands, while Mr Day’s other brand, Jaeger, was sold to Marks & Spencer, where it will become an online-only business.

The deal essentially sees the EWM brands – excluding Jaeger – reform under the old management led by Mr Simpson.

Mr Day will not be in control of the business – ending several decades of involvement in the UK high street – and will hope to recoup the cash he invested as a secured creditor through the deal.

Unsecured creditors, including landlords, suppliers and the taxman, will lose out and are unlikely to get their money back.

According to reports, Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley was also said to be interested in the Peacocks brand, although administrators failed to reach an agreement with him.

The chain had a poor online presence compared with rivals and – along with Arcadia and Debenhams – struggled to recoup business through its websites, leading to its collapse.