South East Wales

Peacocks: new chief executive promises added value

The new chief executive of the Cardiff-based Peacocks clothes store chain says the company will look at giving "added value" to win customers back.

New owners Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) are planning to re-open the company's flagship Cardiff city centre store this weekend, the first since it took over.

Philip Day, chairman and chief executive of EWM, said he also wanted to maintain Peacocks' Welsh identity.

EWM's takeover saved 6,000 jobs, but 3,100 people have been made redundant.

'Very committed'

Peacocks, with 611 stores and 49 concessions across Britain, had employed 9,100 people.

But it went into administration in January having failed to restructure a key £240m part of its total £750m debt.

EWM bought the firm for £23m in a deal including 338 stores, 57 concessions, three distribution centres and the head office.

Mr Day told the Sunday Times last month he hoped to reopen 75 of the 224 stores closed by the administrators.

Speaking in his first broadcast interview since taking the helm at Peacocks, he told BBC Radio Wales that EWM was "very committed" to Wales.

"Peacocks is a Cardiff-based Welsh business and we are absolutely here to support it," he said.

"We've got a wealth of talent here and we're going to work with everybody to try and get Peacocks back on its feet again."

He added that the identity of the company was "absolutely crucial".

"We are very, very keen as a group to make sure that all our businesses keep their local identity and everybody will know, most definitely, that Peacocks is Welsh," Mr Day said.

The chief executive said other stores would be reopening.

"I understand we've already signed 12 of the clothes stores' new leases that we've carried out this week, and we're working extremely hard to get some more done very soon," he said.

"One of the things we are doing right now is that we are bringing back the buying the merchandising teams, the interviews are going on as we speak.

Competition faced

"We've got some great people, got some great talent here and we're very much looking forward to bringing back our colleagues."

Image caption Peacocks went into administration in January

Mr Day said Peacocks' main distribution centre at Nantgarw, north of Cardiff, was "wonderful and well organised", and he was "looking to utilise that throughout the group".

He said going head to head with chains such as the big supermarkets and Primark meant they would always be able to be cheaper.

"What we have to do is make sure we find our niche and offer customers something very different."

Mr Day, who has earned a reputation for turning around troubled companies, added that he was living in Cardiff all week and was looking to buy a flat in the city.

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