High street clothing chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill has gone into administration tonight (Friday) with more than 2,000 jobs at risk.
The main Edinburgh Woollen Mill is affected as well as the Ponden Home chain – two of the four brands in the EWM stable.
So far, 866 jobs have gone and it’s been reported that a further 1,821 jobs under threat.
FRP administrators confirmed this afternoon a total of 56 EWM stores are permanently closed, along with eight Ponden Home shops.
For the remaining sites – 328 EWM and 65 Ponden Home stores – the plan is to continue to trade, Covid-19 restrictions permitting, whilst a buyer is sought.
According to inside sources, it’s believed a buyer is unlikely to be found, meaning 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.”
In a separate move, the EWM Group – owned by businessman Philip Day – was granted a two-week extension by the High Court to continue discussions with potential suitors for its two other fashion brands, Peacocks and Jaeger.
Last month, EWM warned it would go bust without filing for an intention to appoint administrators with the High Court, with 24,000 jobs in the balance.
There is understood to be interest in parts of the business but a further 100 to 150 stores across the group have been earmarked for closure while talks continue with landlords on reducing rents.
There were discussions on a Peacocks brand sale which were 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.