Retal brands at stake

Tycoons battle over future of EWM and Debenhams

Talks are under way over the future of Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Debenhams

Two of Britain’s richest men are locked in separate battles over the future of some of the country’s best-known retail brands.

Billionaire Philip Day is trying to save parts of is Edinburgh Woollen Mill empire which may see it broken up with the eponymous chain closing all its stores and the Peacocks brand savee.

Up to 21,500 jobs are at risk across the group which also owns Jaeger, Austin Reed, and Jane Norman as the retailer faces the prospect of administration.

Mr Day has until Thursday to secure a rescue package for some of the 1,100 stores and has been in talks to secure funding from US hedge fund Davidson Kempner to buy Peacocks, the largest chain.

But a deal could also see 260 Edinburgh Woollen Mill stores closed down largely because of their reliance on tourists.


About 50 stores in the group were closed last week, leading to 600 job losses.

Day, who lives in Switzerland, relocated the group from the Scottish Borders to a new base in Carlisle following years of buying distressed brands.

While he seeks a future for the group Mike Ashley has revived his long-running attempts to buy department store chain Debenhams. 

The Sports Direct tycoon saw his 30% stake wiped out with other shareholders when lenders took over. 

However, he is making another attempt to acquire the business via an auction after it was placed in ‘light touch’ administration in April. 

Debenhams has 120 stores and 120,000 staff. Mr Ashley is keen to open Sports Direct concessions in its stores and convert some into Frasers outlets.

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