Wales

Peacocks: Administrators KPMG final deadline for bids

Six serious bidders remain in contention to take over the Cardiff-based clothing retailer Peacocks, BBC Wales understands.

The number has not changed since the deadline for the first round of submissions passed last week.

The deadline with administrators KPMG for the final round is Monday.

KPMG says the group's overall debt stands at £750m, about the same as the overall sales of the group.

Peacocks employs about 9,000 people across the UK, but 249 staff at its head office in Cardiff have lost their jobs.

The clothing firm has 563 stores and 48 concessions.

All the bids will be reviewed by the administrators before a final decision is made but it is unclear how long that will take.

One report in a Sunday newspaper named Pakistani textile billionaire Alshair Fiyaz as behind one of the offers to land all or part of the firm.

But KPMG would not comment on the speculation, only saying it was hopeful of making an announcement when there was a definite offer on the table.

The administrators said initial interest in Peacocks was "huge", with some 50 potential buyers lining up within the first 48 hours of the firm going into administration.

But this had been whittled down to just half a dozen contenders by last week.

Peacocks' downfall, the largest retail collapse in the UK since the demise of Woolworth, has been put down to its debts, which have grown since a management buyout in 2006.

The buyout team, led by the firm's chief executive Richard Kirk, borrowed £460m.

The overall borrowings had risen to £596m in the last official company accounts dating from 2010, while the overall debt is £750m.

Peacocks went into administration last month after talks on restructuring part of the debt collapsed.

However, the underlying retail business remains profitable, according to BBC Wales business correspondent Nick Servini.

He said: "The trading performance of the stores and this firm was never the major problem, it was always the debt.

"As a result, you would have thought there was a chance that this company could be bought as a going concern and as much of it can remain as intact as possible.

Tough trading

"But, at the same time, it's a very tough trading environment out there and it's a brutal world for any company that's in administration."

Last month the fashion chain Bonmarche, which is part of the Peacocks Group, was bought for an undisclosed sum by private equity group Sun European Partners.

Sun, which bought the entire chain apart from three stores, has said it will continue to run 230 stores but will close about 160.

That could mean 1,400 redundancies among its Bonmarche's 3,800-strong workforce.

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