Multimillioniare Philip Day has backed a deal to keep his Peacocks fashion chain afloat – saving 2,000 jobs and just under half of the chain’s 423 stores.
The deal comes after more than 200 Peacocks stores closed with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs when the chain called in administrators in November last year.
On Tuesday, EWM Group, the private investment firm controlled by the Day family, said it was providing a deferred loan to a management buyout of Peacocks led by Steve Simpson, the chief executive of Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Day’s right-hand man.
The buyout is also being supported by a group of unnamed Middle East investors, understood to be associates of Day, who are providing working capital to help support Peacocks’ return to trading.
The Cardiff-based budget fashion chain, which Albert Peacock founded as a penny bazaar in Warrington, Cheshire, in 1884, was part of Day’s EWM Group, which included Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Jaeger and Ponden Home. The Jaeger brand was bought by Marks & Spencer in January.
All the group’s retailers were put into administration after months of forced high street closures prompted by efforts to control the spread of the Covid-19
The lockdowns and slump in spending on clothing during the pandemic have driven the exit from the high street of several well-known names including Topshop, Debenhams and Laura Ashley.
The structure of the Peacocks buyout is similar to those cut in January for Day’s Bonmarché, Ponden Home and Edinburgh Woollen Mill chains which are all now run by Simpson. Ahead of those deals, 85 Edinburgh Woollen Mill, 34 Ponden Home and 148 Bonmarché stores closed. More than 300 stores and about 2,000 jobs were saved.
Day, who has recently lived in Dubai and Switzerland and also owns a castle in Cumbria, will not be involved in the running of the businesses but retains a certain level of control as a significant secured creditor to Peacocks and Purepay Retail, the vehicle which owns Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Ponden Home and Bonmarché.