High street stores in Chichester and Bognor Regis could be set to close

The future of a national retailer, which has stores in Chichester and Bognor Regis, is in doubt.

West Street, Chichester. Photo: Kate Shemilt ks20206-4
West Street, Chichester. Photo: Kate Shemilt ks20206-4

Up to 24,000 jobs are at risk at Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group after it filed a notice to appoint administrators and warned of 'significant cuts and closures'.

EWM Group, owner of a number of Britain’s most iconic retail brands including Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks and Jaeger, said it is responding to the 'harsh trading conditions' caused by the 'impact of the Covid-19 pandemic'. The retailer has also seen a reduction in its credit insurance by launching a review of its businesses in a drive to secure their future.

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There is an Edinburgh Woollen Mill store and a Peacocks store in Bognor Town Centre. Edinburgh Woollen Mill also has a branch in West Street, Chichester.

Insolvency experts FRP have been brought in to try to secure the company’s future. Staff were written to today (Friday, October 9) by the company to provide an update on the situation.

EWM said that, in recent weeks, it has received 'a number of expressions of interest' for various parts of the group and these are being 'assessed along with all other options'.

Steve Simpson, EWM Chief Executive, 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, 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 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.”

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