Edinburgh Woollen Mill brands approached by “interested parties”

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Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group Philip Day
Retail Gazette understands that the interest has largely been on the basis of the brands' British heritage
// Philip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group is mulling a sale of some of its brands
// The retail group has seen the interest come from international strategic investors

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM) has seen some of its heritage brands approached by a number of interested buyers.

The group, owned by billionaire Philip Day, has seen the interest come from international strategic investors – including parties based in China, which remains unsolicited.

EWM’s brand portfolio includes the likes of British retailers Jaeger and Austin Reed.


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Retail Gazette understands that the interest has largely been on the basis of the brands’ British heritage, history and international appeal.

EWM has appointed an adviser to evaluate the bids. Any sale process would be on a solvent basis.

A source close to the situation has said there was no suggestion that Day was examining a sale of a stake in the wider EWM Group.

In 2016, EWM acquired fashion retailer Austin Reed, as well as its stock and five concessions in Boundary Mill Stores.

The following year, it took over premium retailer Jaeger, after it fell into administration.

Moreover, EWM added retailers Jacques Vert and its Calvetron Brands stablemates, Eastex and Windsmoor, to its portfolio in 2018, after the parent company collapsed.

It also acquired men’s tailoring supplier Berwin & Berwin out of administration.

In June, EWM was criticised by manufacturers in Bangladesh over allegations that it has not paid its bills.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) wrote in a letter on May 26 to EWM to address that the group should stop asking for discounts otherwise it would be blocked from placing future orders.

Bangladeshi suppliers to EWM accused it of taking “undue advantage of the Covid-19 situation” and “demanding unreasonable discounts”.

EWM told Retail Gazette at the time that it has operated in Bangladesh for 30 years without any issues or problems at all, and “continues to feel a strong and positive relationship with the vast majority of suppliers”.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Is this a company in trouble???
    Yesterday, Tigi, one of it’s concession brands was removed from shop floors ‘with immediate effect’ (trouble regarding payments)
    And, who are they in discussion with??? Head Office remains closed!!

  2. I think they’ve over extended. Day is just a deal maker there’s no one in the holding company with any nuts and bolts experience of drilling profits out of individual units.
    In many ways it reminds me of Hinchliffes Fascia group in the 90s … buying up random retailers with no clear strategy except expansion just for the sake of it. I’m not saying they are dodgy like Fascia was, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this fall soon.

  3. Many years ago the strength of the EWM brand was a portfolio of retail that was geared to good secondary towns and tourist locations. Business was driven by a marketing ‘event calendar’ and strong discounting. So turnover was driven by a fast turnover speed and lower costs away from prime sites. This was EWM value all those years ago.
    Light years have passed since those times and Philip Day has transformed the old EWM into a different animal. I am pretty sure in my mind that in the years ahead a similar strategy to the original EWM one will prove an excellent business model.

    Good secondary towns will still be good and tourist locations will still draw crowds. The ‘eventing’ will still encourage repeat visits and online will be there whereas it was not there way back.

    So here is an opportunity to grasp in the years ahead. Be ready for it!

  4. There should be no “mulling” of the sale? Get shot of those stale old brands (that look even worse under their management and direction……If that was at all possible in the first place). Recoup some money to expand the Days department stores I say. They need to get back to what they are good at…..selling biscuits ad scarves to the blue rinse brigade.

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