Belfast Telegraph

Peacocks' debt plan may see stores close

By Clare Weir

Low-price fashion retailer Peacocks could be considering exiting up to 200 stores as it seeks to reduce its debt burden, it was claimed.

The group - which has 611 Peacocks stores and 394 Bon Marche shops across the UK and overseas - has debts of £240m with a syndicate of banks, including Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland.

There are currently 24 Peacocks shops in Northern Ireland and ten Bon Marche branches. Locations include Belfast, Ballymena, Antrim, Londonderry, Bangor and Carrickfergus.

A Peacocks spokesman said: "We continue to progress our restructuring plans, with no decisions taken at this point."

Peacocks also faces a huge rent bill on December 25.

It is not yet known if any branches in Northern Ireland will be affected.

Just a year ago, Peacocks opened the firm's largest Irish store in Belfast with the creation of 16 jobs.

The 14,000 sq ft outlet complex at Donegall Place, was described as a "flagship" branch.

Albert Frank Peacock founded Peacocks in Warrington, Cheshire in 1884 as a Victorian penny bazaar.

In 2002 the Peacock Group acquired value retailer Bon Marche.