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Edinburgh Woollen Mill to open 100 stores over next 18 months

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, the company that rescued Peacocks out of administration last year, plans to open more than 100 stores over the next 18 months.

The company, which also owns Jane Norman, the Edinburgh Woollen Mill brand and Ponden Home, said the new stores would create more than 1,145 jobs. The expansion plans have come on the back of strong financial performance, largely due to a successful turnaround of the Peacocks business.

Newly released accounts from the high street retailer show that pre-tax profits almost trebled to £56.7m in the year to March 2 2013, from £20.2m the previous year.

During the period, group sales rose 130.7% to £566.7m.

Like-for-sales across its Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Jane Norman and Ponden Home fascias increased 1.2% during the past year. Online sales grew 57.5%.

The company said it had invested £80m in turning around Peacocks, which it bought after it fell into administration in 2012, focusing on quality over discounting, building its ecommerce sales and revamping key stores.

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group continued to perform strongly in the first six months of 2013, with a 5% rise in like-for-like sales across the whole business.

Steve Simpson, group commercial director, said: “UK retail remains a tough environment and we are focused on serving customers who are seeking value at a time of reduced discretionary spend but who will not compromise on quality.

“The group is free of debt so we can leverage a positive balance sheet and focus on a sensible strategy which continues to deliver sustainable growth for the long term.

He added that the retailer would look to expand into international markets such as Germany, the Middle East and Russia.

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group was established in 1946 and now operates more than 1,000 stores and employs over 12,000 staff.

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