Update: Edinburgh Woollen Mill & Bonmarche saved in deal protecting 1984 jobs

Update: Edinburgh Woollen Mill & Bonmarche saved in deal protecting 1453 jobs
Philip Day, who was a major secured creditor when EWM Group went into administration, has surrendered his secured creditor position as part of the rescue deal with Purepay Retail.
// Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Ponden Homes & Bonmarche saved from collapse in deal to protect 1984 jobs
// However, 85 Edinburgh Woollen Mill & 34 Ponden Home stores will permanently close, affecting around 500 jobs
// EWM Group’s Jaeger was acquired by M&S earlier this week, but Peacocks remains in administration

The owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill has secured a deal to rescue the brand and sister businesses Ponden Home and Bonmarche from disappearing for good after it crashed into administration last year.

Administrators at FRP Advisory confirmed 246 stores would be saved by Purepay Retail, a consortium of investors led by Steve Simpson – the existing chief operating officer of Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) Group, the former retail empire owned by Philip Day.

The rescue deal secures the future for 1453 workers across Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home.


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Purepay Retail will operate under licence across both brands, saving 1347 shop workers, 72 employees at head office and a further 34 jobs at the company’s Carlisle distribution centre.

However, 85 Edinburgh Woollen Mill and 34 Ponden Home stores will permanently close as part of the agreement, and around 500 staff are set to be made redundant as a result.

Tony Wright, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said: “We have extensively marketed these businesses for sale and this transaction provides the best chance to save stores and jobs, but also meet our own statutory obligations to creditors.

“However, with such little visibility on future trading conditions in UK retail, we regret that not all of Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home could be rescued.

“This has resulted in a significant number of redundancies at a particularly challenging time of year and period of economic uncertainty.

“We have a team working hard to support all those affected as we help make applications for redundancy payments.”

Purepay has also acquired Bonmarché – another retailer once owned by Day – from administrators RSM, including its remaining stock and its head office site and distribution centre in Wakefield.

This will secure the future of 72 Bonmarche stores under licence and 387 store staff will transfer to the acquirer, alongside all 51 head office and 93 distribution centre staff.

The remaining 148 stores are currently closed in line with government legislation, and RSM is reviewing all options for these sites prior to the lifting of the government lockdown.

Meanwhile, EWM Group’s remaining fascia Peacocks remains in administration.

Jaeger, another retailer once part of EWM Group, was bought out of administration by Marks & Spencer earlier this week.

However, M&S did not buy the Jaeger stores, so no jobs are expected to be saved.

It’s understood that Day, who was a major secured creditor when EWM Group went into administration, has surrendered his secured creditor position as part of the rescue deal with Purepay Retail.

Day was reportedly behind the rescue deal for Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Ponden Home and Bonmarche and lined up a series of international investors who will provide the cash it needs to continue trading.

It will see the retailers continue to be controlled by Day with new investors repaying him the money owed as a secured creditor.

Unsecured creditors including landlords and suppliers are unlikely to get back any money owed.

EWM Group became one of a string of retailers embarking on a major restructuring during the Covid-19 pandemic when it called in administrators in late 2020.

The high street has faced a double blow since Covid restrictions added to the pressure already being exerted by changing shopping habits as customers turn to online retail.

Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley, Debenhams, Arcadia Group and Oasis & Warehouse were among the retailers that entered administration last year.

with PA Wires

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26 COMMENTS

  1. I think they will still struggle suppliers won’t want to do business when they know it’s under Philip Day and landlords wont get paid again it’s an absolute disgrace and should be investigated as Mike Astley asked them to step in as he was an interested party in the buy out but didn’t get a look in because it was already drawn up who was going to take over

  2. Very good news that EWM, Ponden Mill and Bonmarche saved along with many jobs. Sadly, many unsecured creditors will not see their debts paid. Day comes out of it ok as he has puppet control from Dubai. It is a solution that may well repeat itself in the future.

  3. Sounds like dirty dealing to me. The guy who owned the business before it entered administration is funding a group that will keep 246 good stores, which in its rebirth will be run by a guy who was in charge before administration.

    No doubt suppliers, landlords and others who are owed money before the demise of the original company, will get none of their debts paid.

    shameful practice

    • Completely agree, however, that is how it works, and does save jobs. I am very surprised that Phillip Green hasn’t done the same.

    • just to inform mate that peacocks habe been the ones who have made more profit that the other brands. im surprise that the other brand have ben saved, if it was me i would of saved peacocks n let the other brands go.

      • As you rightly say Peacocks is the most viable business out of the whole group. I think the plan is for Day to keep hold of Peacocks by paying off creditors with what he will be receiving for the other brands. There will undoubtedly be permanent store closures though. I feel for all staff that have lost their jobs at this difficult time. Christmas must have been awful

  4. Absolutely outrageous. These articles need to strongly indicate that Day has once again dumped debt (nearly £200m) and cost jobs yet is still the owner

  5. At the last looking at the total amount of stores under EWM was 265 and bon marche was 368 so why now are they saying that they have saved 264 stores MORE JOBS LOST THAN SAVED. DAY IS A CON MAN.

  6. I totally get the high street is struggling but they way the staff have been treated is shocking, my wife was told just before Christmas a deal for Bonmarché was done and her job saved then 24 hours later told to ignore that, this morning she is woken by a colleague calling to say they had received a welcome email for purepay retail yet no one from Bonmarché has told any of their staff which stores are being saved, the staff have had to work it out themselves by who did and didn’t get emails, shocking treatment.

  7. The only help staff made redundant are getting is a letter telling them to claim. Some staff do not have Internet and will find it difficult, especially when in lockdown.

  8. It’s appalling what’s happening on the high street. Will there be any retailers left? However if you look at the numbers Day has lost £140M and others c£50M so he’s taken a severe hammering!

  9. I don’t understand how this man continues to get away with doing business like this. Putting people on furlough for months knowing full well there was no job for them. Then putting companies into administration so he doesn’t have to pay out any redundancies. He has conned the government out of alot of money and treated him staff disgracefully.
    A disgusting human being.

  10. Cannot see peacocks being saved as most if not all the stock comes from firms owed money by day out in asia and Bangladesh. IS THAT WHY EWM AND OTHERS have been saved as they can source their own stock.

    • i can see peacocks being saved, but not sure which ones will be save, they closed loads im september,regarding the debt, is wasnt peacockes who owed that money, it was ewm n tbh im actually surprised that ewm,ponden n bonmarche were saved when there all not profitable as peacocks

      • I like your positive attitude but the longer this drags out the less chance I think peacocks has. My understanding was that EWM would go for peacocks to be saved and it’s went completely the other way… But hopefully we all come out of lockdown with positive news.

  11. It’s ridiculous, I worked at Ewm! We were given no notice and just went into administration and that was that! Now to find out certain stores are being saved!! Great start to 2021

    • I work for EWM it was widely reported they were on the brink of collapse I had two emails keeping myself and colleagues up to date and another saying they had gone into administration I am waiting to see what is going to happen to our store we are in a garden centre, I do agree in my experience of 12 years they do not care about their staff !

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