Clothing retailer The Edinburgh Woollen Mill has fallen into administration in a move resulting in the loss of some 750 jobs.
Established in 1947, Edinburgh Woollen Mill is a Carlisle-based knitwear and homeware retailer that had 384 stores across the UK and employed 2,571 staff.
Tony Wright and Alastair Massey, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP, were appointed as joint administrators to the chain and sister brand Duvetco Limited (Ponden Home) last week.
Parent company Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) Group and its other subsidiaries, including Jaeger and Peacocks, are not part of the administration.
A statement from FRP said both Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home were trading well prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, lockdown restrictions and low consumer confidence and footfall of core customer demographics, including senior shoppers and international tourists, had a significant impact on trading performance.
In recent weeks, prior to administration, 56 The Edinburgh Woollen Mill stores and eight Ponden Home stores and concessions were permanently closed.
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On appointment, 750 roles at The Edinburgh Woollen Mill and 116 roles at Ponden Home were made redundant. The companies will continue to trade online and in-store, subject to the respective national lockdown restrictions in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The joint administrators were appointed following efforts by management to secure a solvent sale of both businesses.
A spokesperson 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. It is with a heavy heart we acknowledge there is no alternative but to place the businesses into administration. We will continue to do all we can to support FRP Advisory in trying to secure the best outcome possible for these businesses in these sad circumstances.
“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. We are pleased that today the High Court has agreed to extend the breathing space for those companies for another two weeks to give us more time to work on the details and further pursue these opportunities.”
Joint administrator Wright added 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. We are working with all affected members of staff to provide the appropriate support.”