Belfast Telegraph

Fresh fears for Peacocks posts as possible buyers dwindle

By Jamie Grierson

Thousands of staff at collapsed retailer Peacocks were facing further uncertainty after it was reported only one company remains in the race to salvage the firm.

Peacocks, which has 563 stores and 48 concessions, and parent company the Peacock Group, collapsed under a debt mountain last month in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths, placing 7,500 jobs in jeopardy.

There are 26 Peacocks stores employing around 200 people in Northern Ireland.

Indian textile and clothing giant S Kumars Nationwide (SKNL) is understood to be the only remaining suitor for the business after interest from bid rivals Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Pakistani clothing giant Alshair Fiyaz faded, The Times reported.

Fashion chain Bonmarche, part of the Peacock Group, was sold last month in a deal that will lead to 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures. Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores and will continue to employ 2,400 staff.

A spokesman for administrator KPMG declined to comment.

KPMG held more than 100 conversations with potential buyers for the clothing retailer in the 48 hours after it collapsed.

But the "huge interest" appears to have dwindled as SKNL has emerged as the frontrunner to save the business.

SKNL, which turned over 51.8bn rupees (£667m) last year, bought Hartmarx Corporation, an occasional tailor to President Barack Obama, in partnership with British investment firm Emerisque Brands.

Elsewhere, it has been reported that retailers including Poundland and Tesco are eyeing up parts of the store portfolio in the event a buyer for all or part of the struggling chain is not found.

KPMG has already announced 249 redundancies from Peacocks head office in Cardiff.

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