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Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group Filed A Notice To Appoint Administrator

10th October 2020

Photograph of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group Filed A Notice To Appoint Administrator

In the last few hours the news has broken that Edinburgh Woollen Mills is appointing an administrator.

The group owns several other chains that may be of interest to buyers.

24,000 staff at several thousand shops may be affected.

Only one store remains in Caithness at John O'Groats after the store at Wick closed recently.

The History from Wikipedia

Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) is a Carlisle-based retailer specialising in clothing, along with interests in homewares and destination shopping for tourists. It is wholly owned by the Dubai-based British billionaire Philip Day, and the non-executive chairman is John Herring.[2][3][4]

The company's core Edinburgh Woollen Mill stores have traditionally targeted men and women over the age of 40,[5] but the business has expanded into new markets in recent years, most notably through the acquisition of value fashion retailer Peacocks in 2012.

In May 2018, Edinburgh Woollen Mill announced plans to move their HQ from Langholm to Carlisle.[

The company was founded in 1946 by Drew Stevenson as the Langholm Dyeing and Finishing Company Limited, dyeing wool yarn to order. His eldest son David, until recently the chairman of the EWM Group, opened the first retail store in Randolph Place, Edinburgh, in 1970. In 1972, the first English store was opened in Carlisle.[8][9]

Having been owned by several equity holdings over the previous decade the company was bought out by the newly formed EWM Group and was then subject to a secondary, management takeover in 2002, led by the current chief executive, Phillip Day.[citation needed]

In 2011, the group bought Jane Norman out of administration, having bought Ponden Mills, and merged it with 80 stores bought from the collapsed Rosebys home furnishings store to create Ponden Home.[citation needed]

On 22 February 2012, it was announced that EWM had purchased the Peacocks clothing retail brand along with 388 stores and concessions, its headquarters and logistics functions.[10][11] Although over 200 stores were not acquired at this time, the chain has embarked on a programme of expansion since.

In 2016 EWM purchased the Austin Reed brand, the British fashion retailer founded in 1900,[citation needed]

EWM placed Jane Norman into administration in June 2014, but retained the brand and stock to sell as an online-only business.[12]

In May 2017, it was understood that EWM had bought the Jaeger brand and debt (but not the main company, or secured the future of its 700 staff or payments to its suppliers) from its former owner, Better Capital.[13][14]

In May 2017, EWM opened the first Days (department store), in what had been the BHS premises in Guildhall Square, Carmarthen, which will house Peacocks, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Ponden Home, Jane Norman, and Austin Reed brands.[15][16] This is intended to be the first of a chain of Days department stores.[13]

In May 2020, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in a letter to Philip Day had warned that they would blacklist EWM for non-payment of suppliers in Bangladesh and not returning their calls.[17][18] The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in orders being cancelled or retailers asking for heavy discounts which led to workers being terminated.[19]

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill (Group) Ltd (EWM Group) is now the holding company for three core brands: Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Jane Norman and Peacocks. As of spring 2016, the group operates close to a thousand stores in the UK, comprising:

265 Edinburgh Woollen Mill stores[20]

479 Peacocks stores[21]

107 Ponden Home stores[22]

88 tourist shops and visitor centres trading under various fascias[20] (e.g. James Pringle Weavers)

27 destination sites combining all the Group's concepts[20] (e.g. Masson Mill)

A number of tourist attractions, including the Scottish Deer Centre in Fife and the Scottish Wool Centre in Perthshire.

The Peacocks brand is also franchised internationally.[23]

In April 2017 EWM made a substantial loan to Carlisle United Football Club. This was seen by some to be a move aimed at eventually taking full control of the club.