Clothing chain’s uncertain future

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A CLOTHING chain which has a store in Hartlepool is reportedly on the brink of administration.

A series of complex talks between Peacocks, which has a store in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, and equity and debt holders have delivered no solutions according to national newspaper reports, leaving the future of the company hanging in the balance.

Bon Marche, the 200-shop retailer which is part of the Peacocks Group, is understood to be close to being sold, but there is uncertainty over the remaining 550 Peacocks stores.

There are Bon Marche stores in Hartlepool, Peterlee and Billingham.

The key issue at Peacocks is reportedly related to whether its banks, led by Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, were willing to take a loss on the debt they are owed.

The exact amount of the debt within the business remained unclear but £647m of borrowings was reported to be within the business at the end of April 2010.

An RBS spokesman said: “Each company restructure is judged on its own merits, but clearly the difficult conditions retailers face is an important factor.

“We have been and continue to be supportive of the company.

“New investors willing to inject sufficient capital could not be found.”

A spokesman for Barclays yesterday said: “At every stage Barclays has been willing to support the management in the restructuring of the business.”

Cardiff-based Peacocks – which saw like-for-like sales rise by 17 per cent over Christmas – is owned by hedge funds Och-Ziff and Perry Capital.

Independent advisors at KPMG were recently drafted in to prepare a review of the group’s finances.