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Debt repayments ruffle feathers at Peacocks

PEACOCKS, the budget clothing chain that made history with the first hedge fund-backed private buyout, sank further into the red last year.<br /><br />The firm, which also operates the Bonmarch&eacute; and Fragrance Shop businesses, made a post-tax loss of &pound;7.3m in the 12 months to March. It made a &pound;5.2m loss in 2008.<br /><br />Peacocks took the bulk of the damage servicing its debt pile, which stood at &pound;285m in April. Sales were slow over last Christmas, adding to its woes.<br /><br />The company has had to juggle ambitious expansion plans with the need to look after its debt burden.<br /><br />Chief executive Richard Kirk last year set out plans to double the size of the business, which runs 500 stores in the UK, tapping shareholders for &pound;20m. However the board was forced to call off an &pound;800m refinancing package as the credit crunch took hold.<br /><br />In 2006 Peacocks became the first British company to be taken private by a hedge fund consortium in a &pound;404m management buyout.<br /><br /><strong>FAST FACTS </strong> PEACOCKS<br />&9679; Peacocks was set up in Warrington in 1884 by Albert Peacock, later moving to Cardiff<br />&9679; It listed on the Stock Exchange in 1999 but was taken private in 2006 in anMBO backed by Och-Ziff, Perry Capital and Goldman Sachs