'Second Covid wave' sees Peacocks and Jaeger on the brink putting 24,000 jobs at risk

ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills reports

The owner of high street fashion brands Jaeger and Peacocks is on the brink of collapse after it filed a notice to appoint administrators, affecting around 24,000 workers.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, which owns the brands, in common with so many other names, has been hit hard by falling footfall in town centres during the pandemic.

Steve Simpson, chief executive of the EWM group said: “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, the group has always traded with strong cash reserves and a conservative balance sheet but these stories, the reduction in credit insurance – against the backdrop of the lockdown – and now this second wave of Covid-19 and all the local lockdowns, have made normal trading impossible."

Peacocks was a regular sight on many high streets. Credit: PA

He went on: “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.

“So we have applied to court today 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.”