Uncertain future for Inveraray Woollen Mill

Inveraray Woollen Mill

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The future of shops in Argyll owned by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill group, including Inveraray Woollen Mill, hangs in the balance.

Staff across the group were notified on Friday October 9 of its plans to go into administration unless a rescue solution can be found within 10 days.

The UK’s largest clothing retailer owns Inveraray Woollen Mill as well as a number of shops in Oban.

EWM has filed ‘a notice of intent’ with the High Court to appoint administrators.

Papers have been lodged which effectively buy it 10-days of time before creditors can swoop.

It is now in urgent talks with business experts to ‘review’ its future.

EWM has called in FRP Advisory, which specialise in corporate finance, debt, restructuring and pensions, but can also act as insolvency practitioners.

It puts the future of hundreds of stores and outlets in doubt in a group headed by Switzerland-based billionaire Philip Day.

The group includes subsidiaries such as Jaeger, Ponden Home, and Peacocks.

EWM chief executive Steve Simpson said in a statement that the group had a duty to find ‘the very best solution’ in the current ‘brutal environment’.

Stores will continue trading and further details will be announced, it said.

The statement read: ‘Like every retailer, we have found the past seven months extremely difficult.

‘This situation has grown worse in recent weeks as we have had to deal with a series of false rumours about our payments and trading which have impacted our credit insurance.

‘Traditionally, EWM has always traded with strong cash reserves and a conservative balance sheet but these stories and the reduction in credit insurance – against the backdrop of the initial lockdown, current local lockdowns, and the second wave of Covid-19 reducing footfall have made normal trading impossible.

‘As directors, we have a duty to the business, our staff, our customers and our creditors to find the very best solution in this brutal environment.

‘We have applied to court for a short breathing space to assess our options before moving to appoint administrators.

‘Through this process I hope and believe we will be able to secure the best future for our businesses, but there will inevitably be significant cuts and closures as we work our way through this.

‘I would like to thank all our staff for their amazing efforts during this time and also our customers who have remained so loyal and committed to our brands.’