More than 2,900 employees are now at risk of losing their jobs after it was announced on Friday that clothing retailer Edinburgh Woollen Mill and homeware suppliers Ponden Home have fallen into administration.
Both brands are owned by EWM Group, which is still negotiating a potential rescue deal that could save its remaining brands – Peacocks and Jaeger – from going under.
A spokesperson for the group announced the collapse with a solemn statement about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which had seen its stores close to customers for several months during lockdown.
“Over the past month we explored all possible options to save Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home from going into administration, but unfortunately the ongoing trading conditions caused by the pandemic and lockdowns proved too much.
“It is with a heavy heart we acknowledge there is no alternative but to place the businesses into administration”.
Last month it was reported that Edinburgh Woollen Mill had already permanently closed several of its sites in Cumbria and the Scottish Highlands after the company failed to drum up sufficient sales to offset the losses during the pandemic.
Business advisory group FRP Advisory has been drafted in for the ongoing search for buyers as EWM Group rushes to save its remaining brands.
Tony Wright, FRP joint administrator, said both Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home had been trading well before the pandemic, but that since reopening stores in June they had both struggled to reanimate customer engagement levels.
“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 news comes as the latest blow to the UK high street after dozens of household names have had to close their doors to the public this year.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill had been a familiar face for British consumers since it was launched back in 1947.