Peacocks sale at threat as Edinburgh Woollen Mill faces allegations of unpaid bills

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Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group Philip Day
Edinburgh Woollen Mill said in a letter that advanced negotiations with a prominent US investor overtaking a stake in Peacocks had been threatened
// Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group wrote in follow-up letter to a Bangladesh trade organisation that recent allegations have put the sale of Peacocks into jeopardy
// The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association had alleged that EWM had £27m in unpaid debts to businesses which are members of the organisation
// The chair of the trade organisation later admitted that the original £27m figure that was recirculated was false and the company has paid its suppliers to a “considerable extent”

Peacocks’ investment may have been jeopardised after allegations against owner Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group were brought forward last week that it had not paid its bills.

The retail group and a trade organisation which represents some of its Bangladesh-based suppliers locked horns after the organisation alleged that the firm had £27 million in unpaid debts to businesses which are members of the organisation.

EWM chairman John Herring is understood to have said in a letter that advanced negotiations with a prominent US investor overtaking a stake in Peacocks had been threatened.


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EWM Group owner Philip Day brought in advisers to size up its Peacocks chain last month, following an unsolicited approach.

Discussions are ongoing over the possibility of selling a minority shareholding of the brand to a US investment firm.

Last week, Herring sent a letter to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) chair Rubana Huq, writing that the allegations are now jeopardising the company and its 24,000 employees.

The letter is understood to have added that “one of our companies, Peacocks, has been in advanced negotiations with a prominent US investor and your conduct now threatens the completion of these negotiations”.

Following Herring’s call for an investigation into how the figure of the unpaid bills was released to the media, Huq responded to a previous letter from Herring to clarify that EWM Group has paid its suppliers “to a considerable extent” and that the amount owed is less than what was originally circulated.

However, she insisted there were still “unpaid bills”.

EWM Group released a statement last month saying it has paid off all its bills, and has also previously said it does not recognise the £27 million figure.

Nevertheless, a source close to the matter told Retail Gazette that BGMEA admitted that the original £27 million figure that was recirculated was false and the company has paid its suppliers to a “considerable extent”.

Herring is understood to have said in a follow-up letter that “the lack of knowledge and contempt to the facts demonstrated in your reply is completely unacceptable for a trade organisation representing hundreds of thousands of workers and the largest industry contributor to GDP in Bangladesh”.

He went on to say that the false statements from the President of the BGMEA amounted to “effective sabotage” of the business.

This follows news that the EWM Group is mulling legal action against the BGMEA for recirculating false figures around levels of outstanding debt.

Although Huq maintained that there were still outstanding payments, she was not able to say what those outstanding amounts.

The Group has urged the BGMEA President to now come out with a clear statement that the original figure that was recirculated was completely false, saying “it is imperative you provide us with a copy of the exact statement you have provided to the press without further delay, so that we can correct false understandings”.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. We are a small landlord of Peacocks in two different places and they are withholding rent in both. How many others are in the same position?

    And has EWM Group declared these debts in their information to the potential buyers?

    • What do you expect from a man who will only pay sickpay if you can prove you have cancer. The man is a disgrace and treats his workforce like dogs.

  2. They haven’t paid the rent on two of our shops since Feb. We have now had to sue them. They are a terrible organization and I feel for the suppliers.

  3. We own the Peacocks in Cheltenham and they haven’t paid the rent. What they are doing is disgusting. We can’t even get them on the telephone. Don’t they realise that these aren’t their shops! We did a lease renewal with them last year and they said they had £120 million in the bank and a £400 million bank facility. Mr. Day is profiteering off people’s misery.

  4. I work in the peacocks group and all I know is that they treat everyone like they do not matter and that everything they have is leased lorries shops all leased out to other firms lorries ARE CLIPPER LOGISTICS shops LANDLORDS all over the country the only thing Philip day owns is the STOCK in the shops and distribution centres.

  5. Having previously operated my own concessions within EWM I found the organisation awful to deal with, paying commission 8 weekly in arrears and then only pay weekly per week, they hold 8 weeks of any concessionaires cash at any one time !. A truly awful organisation built on buying other failed businesses at rock bottom prices and shafting anybody possible.

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