Is Peacocks in Ipswich really closing down? We explore the fine print

Peacocks, Ipswich. Picture: Jessica Hill

Peacocks, Ipswich. Picture: Jessica Hill - Credit: Archant

There was great sadness before Christmas when shoppers in Ipswich noticed the ‘closing down’ signs outside Peacocks fashion store, and assumed that the store was soon to close. But two months later, and the fashion shop still seems to be going strong.

Peacocks, Ipswich. Picture: Jessica Hill

Peacocks, Ipswich. Picture: Jessica Hill - Credit: Archant

Because peer a little closer, and you see that the signs actually reads ‘Closing Down Sale - subject to landlord negotiations’.

It’s a tactic that the company which owns Peacocks, The Edinburgh Woollen Mill, has been using with dozens of its stores up and down the country as a result of the annual negotiation of its new leases.

According to FashionNetwork.com, as well as in Ipswich, Peacocks stores in Burton, Kent, Norwich, Folkestone, Taunton, King’s Lynn, Uttoxeter, Ellesmere Port, Winsford, Northwich, Crewe, Widnes, Runcorn, Birchwood, Warrington and Teesside placed ‘closing down, subject to landlord negotiation’ posters in their front windows in the run up to Christmas.

But a source told the website that only a very small number of stores are expected to close, and that the chain will try to open more elsewhere across the country.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Sudbury. Picture: Angie Kearney

Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Sudbury. Picture: Angie Kearney - Credit: Archant

Staff at the Peacocks store on Carr Street in Ipswich say that they still have no idea whether the store will be closing down or not, and one staff member said that it had been a “worrying time” for her recently because of the uncertainty.

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill company has also displayed such posters at its Edinburgh Woollen Mill brand of stores, including the one on Old Market Place in Sudbury, as it tries to strike a better rent deal with its landlords in light of declining town centre footfall.

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The fashion industry is being squeezed by a number of challenges right now, including falling store sales, growing cost pressures and the rise of online shopping, which has led to many brands including New Look, Laura Ashley, Mothercare and Marks and Spencer shutting down stores up and down the country.

The Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which is owned by the billionaire Philip Day, bought Peacocks out of administration for £23m in 2012.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Sudbury. Picture: Angie Kearney

Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Sudbury. Picture: Angie Kearney - Credit: Archant

If Peacocks does close its Ipswich store, it will be another blow for Carr Street with the former Maplin, GAME and Safe Smoke stores all standing empty nearby.

Peacocks closed its store in Priory Walk, Colchester last summer, but still operates stores in Woodbridge, Stowmarket, Felixstowe, Sudbury, Harwich and Frinton-on-Sea.

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