Mike Ashley’s Frasers has hit out at being “frozen out” of the auction for three Edinburgh Woollen Mill brands.
A source close to Frasers, which owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, said they expressed interest in Jaeger, Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill brands, part of Philip Day’s retail empire, which have been put up for sale.
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill brand collapsed on Friday.
But insolvency consultants at FRP Advisory, who have been looking for suitors to save some of the brands, “have been unhelpful throughout the process, either refusing to provide or providing very slowly the normal information a buyer would expect”, the insider said.
Frasers was in talks with advisers from Oct 26 onwards, according to documents seen by The Telegraph.
A so-called data room, where financial information about companies is stored so that bidders can make an informed offer, was initially empty.
“We pointed that out and still got nothing. After much pressing we were drip-fed information, but key items were withheld,” according to insiders.
“There has been no real attempt to engage with us as a committed and willing purchaser - but not the one they want to sell to.”
Two chains that are part of the retail empire owned by Philip Day - Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home - fell into administration on Friday after a protracted process to restructure the wider business, with 866 staff immediately made redundant.
Administrators at FRP said they failed to find buyers for the two brands. FRP is still looking for buyers for Jaeger and Peacocks. Thousands more staff could lose their jobs as the retail sector struggled under the pressure of two lockdowns.
The sale process for Peacocks is codenamed Project Centaur; Edinburgh Woollen Mill was codenamed Project Castle. A charge was registered against the group in March and August this year, which makes Mr Day a secured lender.
He is first in the queue of creditors to recover debts. Several industry sources have said they believe Mr Day is working on a plan to subsequently buy Jaeger and Peacocks out of administration.
A source close to Mr Day said that Frasers was not prepared to match the price tag for some of the brands and other bidders expressed interest early; not at the 11th hour. Mr Day does not intend to buy Edinburgh Woollen Mill or Jaeger out of administration, either.
The retailer first lodged a notice of intent to appoint administrators on Oct 9.
A spokesman for Mr Day said: “All the bidders for Peacocks and Jaeger have had access to the same information and ample opportunity to make an offer since we want to secure the best possible future for both these businesses.”