CARLISLE-based retailer The Edinburgh Woollen Mill has collapsed into administration as the latest casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite a two-week extension by the High Court, the knitwear and homeware retailer along with Ponden Home - another of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group’s (EWM) brands - could not be saved.

As a result 866 jobs have been axed across the two companies, though more than 2,000 remain at risk.

EWM Group, which has its headquarters based in Carlisle, and its other subsidiaries, including Jaeger and Peacocks, are not part of the administration. The News & Star understands bosses have been granted another High Court extension to avoid administration, allowing for a possible rescue deal to be secured.

Prior to administration, 56 of The Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s 384 stores and eight Ponden Home’s 73 stores and concessions were permanently closed.

At The Edinburgh Woollen Mill - which has a shop and distribution centre in Carlisle - 750 jobs have been lost, while 116 roles at Ponden Home, which also has a city branch, were made redundant.

Tony Wright and Alastair Massey, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP, were appointed as Joint Administrators on Thursday.

Mr Wright said: “Recent months have proven extremely challenging for many retailers, even those that were trading well before the pandemic, including the teams at Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home. The administrations will provide some further protection while we continue our search for buyers to secure the long-term futures for both businesses.

“Regrettably, the impact of Covid-19 on the brands’ core customer base and tighter restrictions on trading mean that the current structure of the businesses is unsustainable and has resulted in redundancies. We are working with all affected members of staff to provide the appropriate support.”

The companies will continue to trade online and in their remaining stores, subject to lockdown restrictions.

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill was established in 1946 as the Langholm Dyeing and Finishing Company. It moved into retail in the 1970s, opening its first store in Edinburgh. Its first store south of the Border was opened in Carlisle’s English Street in 1972.