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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Hopes new owner will reopen closed Peacocks shops in Cumbria

Two Cumbrian stores have shut with the loss of 30 jobs following a company buyout by Edinburgh Woollen Mill – but the firm says it is trying to reopen them.

The Langholm-based company, whose chairman Philip Day lives near Brampton, bought troubled retailer Peacocks out of administration yesterday in a deal that secured thousands of jobs nationally.

However, branches in Carlisle and Workington did shut with immediate effect. The Whitehaven store stayed open.

The Carlisle store is one of the centrepiece units in The Lanes shopping centre and will leave a large hole at the heart of the retail centre of the city.

But in a new development today, Edinburgh Woollen Mill has told the News & Star it will try to negotiate deals that would allow the firm to reopen closed stores not included in the deal. This could include the two in Cumbria.

The branches that ceased trading were said to be unprofitable.

The buyout came after Peacocks went into administration last month.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill acquired the Peacocks brand, 388 stores and concessions as well as the business headquarters and other parts of its set-up in Wales, protecting about 6,000 jobs.

But 224 stores were not included in the sale, leading to 3,100 redundancies.

The closures in Cumbria bought further gloom to the high street after a number of high-profile withdrawals in recent weeks.

On the issue of the Cumbrian closures, a spokesman for Edinburgh Woollen Mill said: “Obviously, Mr Day lives and works in the area and understands the serious issues in Carlisle, which are similar to city centres across the UK.

“Of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done with Peacocks, which was in administration and facing complete closure.

“We’ve said if we can get the business stabilised then that is the best opportunity for looking again at these branches.”

In a statement issued yesterday, Mr Day added: “We look forward to working with our new colleagues to rebuild the business in what is a very tough economic environment for high street retailers in the UK.

“We do hope that there will be scope to save more jobs and stores from those being forced to close now due to performance issues and overhead pressures.

“As you can imagine, there will be a considerable amount of work to undertake over the next few months to stabilise the situation, turn this business around, get the supply chain moving again and excite the customers with great products.”

Seventeen people have lost their jobs at the Carlisle store. It is understood staff were asked to leave the store at about 1.30pm yesterday and it was then closed down. Thirteen workers were axed at the shop in Workington.

The closure in Carlisle follows the demise of Goldsmiths jewellers in English Street this month. This came after news that designer clothes store Jaeger and neighbouring Benetton, are to close.

Kaisa Kamppuri, 20, of Mirehouse, Whitehaven, was the last person in Workington’s Peacocks, on Murray Road. “I didn’t realise the shop was closing down. I went in to buy some leggings and the staff started to lock the doors,” she said.

The shutdown comes only two weeks after fashion chain Bonmarche, on Ivison Lane, announced its closure.

John Gorle, of the union Usdaw, said: “While this is obviously fantastic news for those workers whose jobs have been saved, it is absolutely catastrophic news for the 3,100 people now facing the dole queue.

Peacocks stores in Barrow and Kendal have also closed with immediate effect.

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