RETAIL giant Edinburgh Woollen Mill has been saved in a deal that will protect 1,453 jobs and keep 246 stores from permanently closing down.

The owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill - which has branches in Dorchester and Sherborne - crashed into administration last year.

Administrators at FRP confirmed 246 stores will be saved by Purepay Retail, which is controlled by former owner Philip Day. The deal secures the future for 1,453 workers.

The new owner will operate under licence across both brands, saving 1,347 shop workers, 72 employees at head office and a further 34 jobs at the company’s Carlisle distribution centre.

However, 85 Edinburgh Woollen Mill and 34 Ponden Home stores have been permanently closed as part of the agreement. Ponden Home previously had a branch in Weymouth.

Another sister brand to EWM, fashion chain Peacocks, remains in administration.

Tony Wright, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said: “We have extensively marketed these businesses for sale and this transaction provides the best chance to save stores and jobs, but also meet our own statutory obligations to creditors.

“However, with such little visibility on future trading conditions in UK retail, we regret that not all of Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home could be rescued.

“This has resulted in a significant number of redundancies at a particularly challenging time of year and period of economic uncertainty.

“We have a team working hard to support all those affected as we help make applications for redundancy payments.”

The deal will come too late for some staff too, with around one-third of the 2,571 employees already made redundant.