Thousands of jobs and 200 Peacocks stores saved

Peacocks in Dereham

Peacocks has been saved in a rescue deal which could see stores remaining open. It is not known whether these will include any in Norfolk or Waveney. - Credit: Archant

Collapsed fashion chain Peacocks, with stores in Norfolk and Waveney, has been saved by a senior executive with backing from an international consortium.

Chief operating officer Steve Simpson will take over the business, saving 2,000 jobs and 200 stores, which he hopes to reopen once lockdown restrictions on non-essential retailers ease.

However, this still means 200 shops will permanently close.

The chain was part of retail mogul Philip Day's Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) fashion empire which collapsed in November last year.

Peacocks had stores in Dereham, Downham Market, Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft.

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Many promoted big closing down sales last year when the firm collapsed.

It is not yet known whether any of the local shops will reopen or stay closed.

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Mr Day was the biggest creditor of Peacocks and is owed money by the business he once owned.

Administrators FRP negotiated a deal with him by signing a deferred loan agreement between a consortium of investors and the businessman which will eventually see him get his money out of the company.

The consortium of international backers are primarily based in Dubai, where Mr Day lives.

A similar deal was set in place with the EWM and Bonmarche brands, while Mr Day's other brand, Jaeger, was sold to Marks & Spencer, where it will become an online-only business.

Mr Day will not be in control of the business but hopes to recoup the cash he invested as a secured creditor through the deal.

Unsecured creditors, including landlords, suppliers and the taxman, will lose out and are unlikely to get their money back.

According to reports, Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley was also said to be interested in the Peacocks brand, although administrators failed to reach an agreement with him.

Peacocks had 400 stores going into the pandemic a year ago.

The chain had a poor online presence compared with rivals and - along with Arcadia and Debenhams - struggled to recoup business through its websites, leading to its collapse.

The deal essentially sees the EWM brands - excluding Jaeger - reform under the old management led by Mr Simpson.

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