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Frasers Group calls for inquiry into Peacocks sale

By Huw Hughes

7 Apr 2021

Frasers Group has called for an inquiry into the sale of Peacocks, which was bought out of administration this week after collapsing in November.

Administrators from FRP announced Tuesday that Peacocks had been acquired by an international investment consortium lead by the discount retailer’s former chief operating officer, Steve Simpson.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM), the former owner of Peacocks, agreed to utilise its security and provide a deferred loan to the consortium.

FRP said Peacocks hopes to be able to reopen up to 200 stores when the lockdown rules ease and protect approximately 2,000 jobs thanks to the deal. The company had around 400 stores when it collapsed in November.

But Frasers Group, which was interested in acquiring Peacocks, is now calling for an investigation into the deal.

It said it submitted an expression of interest in Peacocks but was “repeatedly frustrated by FRP Advisory’s unwillingness, as the administrators of Peacocks, to engage substantively or to provide key financial information”.

This made it “virtually impossible for Frasers Group or any other third party to provide a credible alternative to the purported sale to the connected party”.

Frasers Group said it sent a letter to FRP on March 27 detailing concerns over insufficient access to Peacocks’ financial information.

The group said it will now raise concerns with the all-party parliamentary group which is conducting an investigation into standards of the UK insolvency profession.

Frasers Group said: “Throughout the process Frasers Group raised questions specifically around the rationale and information provided in relation to the assignment of Peacocks intellectual property to a third party in the early part of 2020 prior to the joint administrators being appointed.

“Evidence was provided to the joint administrators that undermined the authenticity of the assignment documentation provided to support the assignment which we strongly believe warrants further investigation by the joint administrators.”

A spokesperson for Peacocks’ administrators at FRP told The Guardian: “All of our sales processes are fair, robust and conducted confidentially.

“All interested parties are given the same access to information and outcome of those processes and our statutory investigations are communicated, in line with our duties, to creditors at the appropriate time.”

Image: Frasers Group media centre