249 jobs to go at Peacocks head office
Thursday 19 January 2012
The administrators of Peacocks have made 249 head office staff redundant in the first job losses since the clothing retailer collapsed.
KPMG said it would keep on the remaining 266 employees at the Cardiff offices and continue to run Peacocks' 563 stores and 48 concessions as it seeks a buyer for the business.
Peacocks and its parent company The Peacock Group collapsed into administration yesterday, placing some 9,600 jobs in jeopardy.
Bonmarche, also owned by The Peacock Group, which employs 3,800 staff and operates some 394 stores, has not yet entered administration but filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators on Monday.
Chris Laverty, joint administrator at KPMG, said: "It is with regret we have made 249 redundancies at Peacocks' head office in Cardiff, which follow a commercial review of the staffing levels of the business."
The administration of Peacocks is the biggest retail failure since the collapse of Woolworths in December 2008, which left 27,000 employees out of work.
Today's announcement came on the same day that budget fashion rival Primark, owned by Associated British Foods, said total sales at its 232 stores across Europe were up 16% in the 16 weeks to January 7 in what it described as an "exceptional performance".
Peacocks also reported strong trading over the Christmas period, with like-for-like sales up 17%, helped by a collaboration with singer-turned-fashion designer Pearl Lowe.
But the company, owned by hedge funds Och-Ziff and Perry Capital, has suffered as its profit margins came under pressure from the frenzy of discounts on the high street being offered by retailers desperate to drum up trade.
Administrators said yesterday that Peacocks' collapse was caused by consumers tightening their belts, while a surplus of stores and high overheads had led to the business becoming "financially unviable in its current form".
Peacocks can trace its history back to Warrington, in Cheshire, in 1884 when Albert Frank Peacock founded Peacock's Penny Bazaar. In 1940, his son, Harold, moved the business to its current base in Cardiff.
The business developed and expanded in the 1990s, floating on the London Stock Exchange in 1999. The Peacock Group acquired low-cost retailer Bonmarche in 2002.
The company delisted from the Stock Exchange to once again become a privately owned business in 2006 and broke the 500 stores mark in 2008.
KPMG has overseen the administration of several retail firms in recent weeks, including outdoor retailer Blacks Leisure, gift retailer Past Times and lingerie firm La Senza.
Today, insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor revealed a 26% rise in retailers reporting that they were critically distressed in the final quarter of 2011 and warned that more collapses were to come with small regional players most at risk.
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