Job loss threat at seven shops

Peacocks, Bank Hey St, Blackpool.
Peacocks, Bank Hey St, Blackpool.
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The collapse of clothing firm Peacocks and gift shop Past Times could lead to the loss of seven shops on the Fylde coast.

Peacocks has branches in Lord Street, Fleetwood; Bank Hey Street, Blackpool, and Church Street, Poulton, and subsidiary chain Bonmarche has stores in Bank Hey Street, Blackpool, Victoria Road West, Cleveleys; and St Annes Road West, St Annes.

Gift retailer Past Times has a store on Fleetwood’s Freeport shopping village.

All six clothes stores are threatened with closure if Peacocks cannot find a new investor, after the taxpayer-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland pulled out of talks to help save the company when it refused to swap its debts for equity in the firm.

It’s not known how many jobs are at risk.

The bank’s withdrawal from discussions means the firm will be forced to file for bankruptcy in 10 days’ time – despite fellow bank Barclays’ pledge to support any rescue package for the firm.

Past Times fell into administration on Monday and confirmed 507 staff were made redundant before the move.

The private equity-owned group, which last week shut 46 stores and 72 temporary stores, said KPMG had been appointed as administrator to the loss-making business following weak trade.

If no buyer can be found for the chain, the stores will be gradually wound down.

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Trade leaders have united in their support for the popular stores.

Blackpool town centre manager Eileen Ormand said: “The problem is we don’t have a say on whether these shops are closing or not and we can’t be sure.

“I hope they find an investor and they can survive these trying days.

“Peacocks and Bonmarche are two important businesses in Blackpool and both have recently been refurbished.

“We would be very sad to see either of them leaving the high street.”

Coun Gordon McCann, economic portfolio holder for Wyre, added: “The stores are trading profitably but it’s the parent company that has a big debt. We have to keep our fingers crossed.”

And George McCaffer, of Poulton Traders’ Association, added: “It’s a real shame but it’s happening all over the country.

“If Peacocks go we’ll have very few clothes shops left.”

Arnold Sumner, of St Annes Chamber of Trade, added: “It’s sad in situations like this that the store in St Annes could be doing really well, but it’s how the bigger group is doing.

“It’s such a shame the banks can’t be more sympathetic and help these firms trade their way out of trouble.”