Peckham's buys four McLeish stores

DELI chain Peckham's has snapped up a string of branches from collapsed rival McLeish Brothers as part of ambitious expansion plans that will create more than 100 jobs north of the Border.

The company has bought four of the McLeish Brothers stores out of administration, while three others are to be taken over by separate bidders.

Administrator Tenon said yesterday that a further three shops – including the branch on Edinburgh's South Bridge – had not been sold and would remain closed.

McLeish's central kitchens in Dundee – where the firm cooked food sold in its stores– also failed to attract a buyer.

Tony Johnston, founder of Peckham's, which started 25 years ago with a single outlet in Glasgow's Clarence Drive, said his firm would create about 110 jobs in the coming year – through both the acquired McLeish Brothers stores and Peckham's planned openings in Livingston and Glasgow.

A total of 20 roles have been saved through Peckham's acquisition of two McLeish shops in Aberdeen and two others in Dundee and Broughty Ferry.

The acquisition – Peckham's first foray into the Aberdeen area – is likely to boost the firm's turnover by about a quarter, Johnston said, to 12.5 million.

He added: "We very much want to build on the success the McLeish Brothers had in these stores and also bring in our own range of goods and our own way of doing things."

He confirmed the acquired stores would be rebranded as Peckham's.

McLeish Brothers fell into administration on 12 January with the loss of 175 jobs after the credit crunch put a stop to its ambitious expansion plans as banks cut back lending.

Johnston said former employees who were made redundant when the Aberdeen Union Street and Broughty Ferry stores were closed would be offered their jobs back.

He added: "McLeish Brothers was not really struggling, which is why we see buying these stores as such a good opportunity. They had ambitious expansion plans and the timing was just unfortunate. A lot of their sites were doing very well, but had incredibly high overheads.

"If it wasn't for the banks deciding that they no longer wished to extend credit, they would have continued to expand."

Johnston added that Peckham's, which enjoyed a 2 per cent rise in turnover over the Christmas period – had not been hit by the credit crunch.

He said: "People are dining out less, but they still want quality food.

"Joint administrator Iain Fraser of Tenon said: "We are delighted to have secured the future of seven stores and wish the four preferred bidders every success when they take ownership of the sites. Given the market conditions, this is a great outcome for all concerned with McLeish Brothers and I would like to thank the staff and suppliers who have worked closely with us throughout."