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Peacocks, Edinburgh Woollen Mills, Austin Reed ... No Beginning To Fashion

Posted on Sep 21, 2020. by NTI

For cutting edge fashion and the on-trend ‘look for now’ you should not for a second consider any of the ‘legacy stores’ owned by Philip Day. For starters, words like ‘empire’ and ‘tycoon’ are used to describe his host of brands and himself respectively, and our guard in the NTI newsroom immediately went up. “Dear God, not Austin Reed,” said Billy  

“My Nan had one of those,” said Tracee, “she crashed it down a railway embankment.”

But, yes, Austin Reed, where Richard’s great-grandfather bought a gas-mask and matching hankie and Neil acquired a ‘sensible coat’ in 1983 which is now used to line his nephew’s guinea pig hutch.

The word ‘legacy’ weighs heavy with euphemism and refers to stores such as Peacocks of which there are, astoundingly, 555 shops, Edinburgh Woollen Mills and Jaeger. It is wrong to say that people wouldn’t be seen dead in clothes sold by these stores, because that is precisely their target market. The open casket has a lot to answer for. Anyway it appears that Mr Day, who has made his millions out of buying up ‘distressed heritage retail businesses’ and, well, turning them into ‘value brands’, can sense a market for his basket of shops and FRP Advisory has been appointed to assess the value of the businesses.

For those of you who have become fans of the sartorially challenged Chris Witty, Chief Medical Advisor to the Government, you will see from his ‘do not adjust the contrast on your TV set’ appearances scaring the willies out of the nation at 5.00pm throughout lockdown, that he has a penchant for outsized suits (in the same way that Prince Andrew has an affection for television interviews), as well as ties that add levels of definition to the word ‘askew’ that have previously been unexplored. Our point is that Chris would struggle to improve his wardrobe in any of these ‘legacy’ stores. 

That does not put off Mr Day. He is a canny operator and sources close to Billy overhearing a conversation in Costa report that although the FRP process is being conducted with a view to a solvent sale, some restructuring experts believe it may be a prelude to an insolvency process that would ultimately return the chain to Mr Day, minus its debts and lease obligations. Told you, canny. 

NTI have a source deep within the bowels of FRP who cannot be named, other than to say she is Elaine, in her mid-70s and likes to see a man look ‘dapper’. She shops in Peacocks and has two items of tartan that hail from Edinburg Woollen Mills. They are both terminally unattractive articles of clothing, but clearly do it for her current squeeze, Jack, almost 45 years her junior and who is, not at all, after her money. 

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