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Ponden faces administration

Ponden2020The future of interiors chain Ponden has been put in doubt after its parent company said it intended to appoint administrators.

The chain, which trades as Ponden Home and Ponden Mill, had 117 outlets – a mixture of stand-alone stores and concessions – before the pandemic, of which 83 have re-opened.

Parent company Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group also owns the Peacocks, Jaeger, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Austin Read brands and is owned by billionaire Philip Day.

‘Like every retailer, we have found the past seven months extremely difficult. This situation has grown worse in recent weeks as we have had to deal with a series of false rumours about our payments and trading which have impacted our credit insurance,’ says Steve Simpson, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group chief executive. 

The group has denied claims from suppliers in Bangladesh that it has outstanding bills.

‘Traditionally, EWM has always traded with strong cash reserves and a conservative balance sheet but these stories and the reduction in credit insurance – against the backdrop of the initial lockdown, current local lockdowns, and the second wave of Covid-19 reducing footfall have made normal trading impossible,’ says Simpson.

‘As directors we have a duty to the business, our staff, our customers and our creditors to find the very best solution in this brutal environment. Through this process, I hope and believe we will be able to secure the best future for our businesses, but there will inevitably be significant cuts and closures as we work our way through this.’

The group has appointed FRP Advisory to oversee a review of the business and says it will appoint it as administrator. FRP Advisory handled the administration of clothing chain Bonmarché in February after Day put the chain into administration and bought it back. Bonmarché is not included in this development.

EWMG says it has received ‘a number of expressions of interest for various parts of the group.’