Retail group rescue deal safeguards Inverness and Fort Augustus stores
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Branches of Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Inverness, Fort Augustus and John O'Groats have been saved after administrators agreed a rescue package for the firm.
The deal announced by administrators FRP Advisory will allow 246 stores to remain open, among them branches in Inverness, where it also trades as James Pringle Weavers at Holm Mills, protecting 1453 jobs across Edinburgh Woollen Mill and its partner Ponden Homes retail group.
Purepay Retail, a consortium led by Steve Simpson, who is the current chief operating officer of Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) Group, will operate under licence across both brands.
However, 85 stores are to permanently close at the cost of some 500 jobs.
This includes the Ullapool branch of Edinburgh Woollen Mill at 10 Shore Street, although there was better news for its sister outlet at 5 Shore Street, trading as the West Highland Woollen Company, which has been saved.
Another partner brand to EWM, fashion chain Peacocks, remains in administration.
Former owner Philip Day will continue to control the business with new investors repaying him the money owed as a secured creditor.
Unsecured creditors including landlords and suppliers are unlikely to get back any money owed.
Tony Wright, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said the transaction provided the best chance to save stores and jobs, but also to meet statutory obligations to creditors.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill had previously closed 50 of its stores late last year, including its Dingwall branch in October and its Elgin outlet a few weeks later.