The collapsed fashion chain Peacocks – which has a store in Burnham-On-Sea – has been bought out of administration, a move that includes transferring 2,000 jobs and 200 shops.
Last October, we reported here that the Burnham-On-Sea High Street store had started a ‘closing down sale’, but it remained open before the lockdown restrictions were introduced.
This week’s announcement raises hopes that the Burnham store and jobs may be permanently saved from closure.
Peacocks was previously owned by Edinburgh Woollen Mills (EWM). The buyers are an international consortium, led by Peacocks’ former chief operating officer, Steve Simpson, who hopes to reopen the stores once non-essential retailers are allowed out of lockdown.
EWM Group is a private investment group controlled by the Day family, which is owed money by Peacocks and is supporting the consortium.
A statement from the administrators, FRP, says the collapse of the chain was due to “the devastating effects of the Covid-19 lockdown” on the business.
The Peacocks’ management team hope that, with the support of their partners, suppliers and landlords, they will be able to reopen up to 200 stores.
The statement added the company hoped all 1,850 store staff, who are currently on furlough, will be able to return to work once stores reopen, along with more than 150 in head office and support.
A similar deal was set in place with EWM and Bonmarche brands, while another of EWM’s brands, Jaeger, was sold to Marks & Spencer, which intends to run it as an online-only business.
Peacocks had 400 stores going into the pandemic a year ago and announced a series of job losses and store closures as it struggled to manage under the various restrictions.
Analyst Susannah Streeter at stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown, says: “Peacocks will be a much leaner beast emerging from the crisis, with its footprint of around 400 stores halved under the deal.”
“Shedding the excess weight of underperforming outlets will help it be more nimble but getting the online offering into better shape will be even more crucial, given its rivals are seen as racing ahead.”