Plenty of interest in Peacocks, says its administrator

18/1/12       SB''Peacocks in Gosport High Street shops''Picture: Paul Jacobs (120191-7)
18/1/12 SB''Peacocks in Gosport High Street shops''Picture: Paul Jacobs (120191-7)

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COLLAPSED retailer Peacocks is heading towards new ownership after administrators were swamped with interest in all or part of the business.

More than 100 conversations were held with potential buyers for the clothing retailer in the 48 hours after it collapsed, KPMG said.

Chris Laverty, joint administrator and restructuring partner at KPMG, said: ‘We have received huge interest from potential acquirers of Peacocks, following our appointment last week.’

Peacocks has 563 stores nationwide, including ones in North End, Cosham, Fareham, Gosport, Waterlooville, Havant and Leigh Park.

The chain and parent company the Peacock Group collapsed into administration under its debt mountain this month in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths, placing 9,600 jobs in jeopardy.

Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold earlier this week 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.

Elsewhere, it was reported that retailers including Poundland and Tesco were 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.

Peacocks reported strong trading over the Christmas period, with like-for-like sales up 17 per cent, 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.

The retailer also racked up £750m of borrowings.

Mr Laverty said: ‘Whilst the capital structure was not sustainable, the underlying business has a loyal customer base evidenced by strong sales levels in store since our appointment.’

The administrators have set a deadline of Monday for potential bids to be submitted. But the Financial Times said if a buyer is not found, some 200 stores could still be closed.

Landlords are understood to be negotiating with other retailers that might take the shops, including Poundland, Brighthouse and Tesco.