Jobs may be saved in store deal

The headquarters of Ponden Mills' parent company in Keighley

The headquarters of Ponden Mills' parent company in Keighley

The headquarters of Ponden Mills' parent company in Keighley

The headquarters of Ponden Mills' parent company in Keighley

First published in News by

The jobs of workers at 33 Ponden Mills stores look to be secure after a deal was struck for the stores to pass into new hands.

Ponden Mills went into administration earlier this month, blaming difficult trading conditions, a downturn in consumer spending and increasing overheads.

However, Poundstretcher, a subsidiary of Huddersfield-based budget retailer Instore, has agreed to take control of 33 of the larger Ponden Mill stores, mainly based in retail parks, for £3.8 million.

It is still unclear exactly which stores are included in the deal.

The deal includes all stock in the stores at the Keighley distribution centre of its parent company Marston Mills. It now also has the licence to use the Coloroll brand.

The move will come as comfort to many of the firm's employees who have faced uncertain futures after administrator Ernst & Young was called into the company earlier this month and axed 44 jobs at its headquarters in Royds Ings Avenue.

Ernst & Young is understood to be acting to seal deals for the remainder of the Ponden Mills business which employs about 1,300 workers across the country.

It has shops in Bradford, Skipton and Keighley.

Ponden Mill was founded in 1968 by former RAF dog handler Barry Brookfield as a market stall in Skipton.

In the 1970s he started selling duvets from an old mill near to Haworth, before opening his first shop. He would go on to grow the group into a national chain selling bedding, curtains and linen.

Other brands in the Marston Mills group include Jeff Banks Home, with the designer's bed linen, curtains, towels and accessories also available in store concessions.

The firm is thought to have about 120 staff in Keighley, Stanbury and Skipton.

Marston Mills, which also trades under the Life from Coloroll brand, has 135 stores across the UK and 80 concessions in retailers such as Debenhams and B&Q.

It will continue to trade while administrators attempt to sell the company as a going concern.

The business has struggled from increasing competition from supermarkets in recent years.

e-mail: mark.casci@bradford.newsquest.co.uk

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