Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, parent of Peacocks and Jaeger is to close 50 stores within a matter of days and cut 600 jobs.
It is not yet clear which stores will be closed but staff have been informed that their jobs have been lost. The move comes a week after the fashion retail group filed a notice to appoint administrators at the high court.
It has been reported by Property Week that the group, which also owns Bonmarche, Austin Reed and Jacques Vert, had written to landlords informing them that FRP Advisory was the proposed administrator and laying out a plan for a pre-pack administration that would allow retail tycoon Philip Day to retain ownership of the business.
In the letter, which was seen by Property Week, the company told landlords that a “rationalisation plan has been formulated and will be implemented immediately, which will result in the closure of over 50 stores within the next few days and it is anticipated that a further 100 – 150 stores will be closed during the next fortnight”.
The group has around 1,000 stores in its portfolio and while they are not in the hardest hit city centre locations they have struggled due to serving an older consumer, who is reluctant to shop in physical retail outlets at the moment.
Earlier this month, the company became embroiled in a row with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) which had claimed that it owed Bangladeshi garment factories £27m in unpaid bills. The BGMEA later retracted the claim after Edinburgh Woollen Mill threatened legal action and conceded that most bills had been either paid or agreed.
The company said the reports had jeopardised a potential investment in the business by an unnamed US investor, which was later revealed to be New York hedge fund Davidson Kemper.