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Are Changes Ahead for Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill?

Reports across the pond indicate that value fashion chain Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill could be broken up after potential buyers showed an interest in the apparel companies.

Those buyers, said to be strategic players located outside of the U.K., have also indicated interest in the heritage labels Jaeger, Austin Reed and Jacques Vert, in the portfolio of holding company Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, which is owned by British billionaire Philip Day.

Day has a history of buying up distressed high-street retail brands.

Day has reportedly hired FRP Advisory to review the brands, according to The Financial Times, which said Edinburgh Woollen Mill had not, in fact, received a bid and was unlikely to be sold, even though it too was to receive an “open-ended exploration of the value of the business” by the advisory firm.

Knitwear specialist Edinburgh Woollen Mill works with over 400 stores to sell fashion items including cashmere and tweed and Scottish-themed gifts. Peacocks, which is franchised internationally, operates a total of 550 doors, although some still remain closed due to Covid-19,

Day has a background in fashion and textiles, having worked at Aquascutum, a luxury clothing manufacturer and retailer, before joining the knitwear specialist, where he subsequently led a buyout of the company in 2002. The company also acquired Pondon Mill, a home furnishings firm, and Rosebys, a soft furnishings company, both in 2008. He subsequently expanded the holdings of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group as he acquired distressed brands that had fallen into administration, such as Austin Reed and Country Casuals in 2016 and Jaeger in 2017. Day acquired Peacocks in 2012, also out of administration, the U.K. equivalent of a bankruptcy in the U.S. And last year, a separate firm of Day’s, Spectre Holdings, acquired Bonmarche, although that fell into administration and was subsequently bought by Peacocks.