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Philip day

Philip Day

Owner, Edinburgh Woollen Mill

Philip Day was on the acquisition trail once again in 2019, but many of the deals failed to come to fruition. Day withdrew his bid for LK Bennett in April, and in August he missed out on buying Jack Wills, which was sold to Sports Direct.

He was successful in snapping up troubled value chain Bonmarché in April, when his investment vehicle, Spectre, bought a majority share of the business, triggering a mandatory takeover bid. Day planned to close unprofitable stores, and invest in the retailer’s product and technology.

However, it was too little, too late. Bonmarché fell into administration in October, blaming a sustained period of challenging trading conditions and cashflow pressure.

Yet the story is not over: it emerged last month that Peacocks, part of Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) Group, was the preferred bidder.

The picture at the wider group – which owns the EWM chain, Austin Reed, Jacques Vert owner Calvetron Brands, and men’s tailoring brand Berwin & Berwin, as well as Peacocks – was brighter, however, reporting a profit of £23.4m after tax for the half-year to 2 March 2019.

Jaeger, which EWM Group bought out of administration in May 2017, reported a loss of £1.1m in the 27 weeks to 2 March 2019. This compares with a loss of £6.5m in the 74 weeks to 25 August 2018, and a loss of £7.1m in the year before Jaeger collapsed into administration in April 2017.

During the half-year, Jaeger opened seven stores and four concessions. It now has 14 stores and 72 concessions in total.

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