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High Street retailer Peacocks ran into financial trouble this year in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, which owns a string of well known high street stores, filed a notice to appoint administrators in October, after admitting the pandemic had poorly affected sales.
Is Peacocks closing down?
Several Peacocks stores will close up and down the UK, taking about 600 high street jobs with it.
Peacocks has not yet published a list of stores that are due to close or have already closed.
At the time of filing for administration, Steve Simpson, chief executive of the EWM group, said: “Like every retailer, we have found the past seven months extremely difficult.
“This situation has grown worse in recent weeks as we have had to deal with a series of false rumours about our payments and trading which have impacted our credit insurance.
“Traditionally, the group has always traded with strong cash reserves and a conservative balance sheet but these stories, the reduction in credit insurance – against the backdrop of the lockdown – and now this second wave of COVID-19 and all the local lockdowns, have made normal trading impossible.
“As directors we have a duty to the business, our staff, our customers and our creditors to find the very best solution in this brutal environment.
“So we have applied to court today for a short breathing space to assess our options before moving to appoint administrators.”
EWM, which is owned by billionaire businessman Philip Day, has 1,100 stores for its brands.
Mr Day has a £1.14bn fortune, according to the Sunday Times Rich List published in May 2020.
Thousands of high street jobs have either been lost or are in jeopardy thanks to the coronavirus crisis, which has lead to prolonged closures and a huge fall in sales as people move more online than ever for goods.
Data collected by the Local Data Company has revealed that three in ten high street stores did not reopen in the first week post-spring lockdown, when non-essential stores could reopen from June 15.
Inner-city areas, such as areas of London that largely only contain offices and very few homes, were the worst hit areas, whereas more suburban areas began to rely on those working from home for their commerce.
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Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, said: “Evidence from our initial research shows a real contrast between locations where people live and areas where people work.
“This might be unsurprising given many office workers are still opting to base themselves from home thereby decimating footfall in inner-city locations.
“However, these are incredibly important economic hubs and so what happens next will be critical.
“The outlook for these urban centres remains very uncertain as we can expect most office workers to remain at home for the coming months, at least part-time, which will continue to significantly depress footfall across these locations.
“This coupled with the inevitable contraction in discretionary spend that comes with a recession will exacerbate the challenges city centres and fashion-retail hubs will face, especially when you factor in the higher rents these areas often demand.
“On a more positive note, we have already seen local markets get a boost from higher activity levels from home workers and a local catchment which is unwilling to travel too far.
“This, at least in the short to medium term is where the opportunities lie for our retailers, finding ways to serve a local population facing the fall-out from such an unexpected and unprecedented global event.”
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