Thousands of staff at collapsed retailer Peacocks were facing further uncertainty after it was reported that only one company remains in the race to salvage the firm.
Indian textile and clothing giant S Kumars Nationwide (SKNL) is understood to be the only remaining suitor for the business after interest from bid rivals Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Pakistani clothing giant Alshair Fiyaz evaporated.
A “Save Peacocks” campaign involving staff from the company has called for the business’ headquarters and its distribution depots to remain in Wales and for as much as possible of the business to be retained.
Many of the 54,700 names on the petition have been contributed via social networking sites, but more than 22,000 have been collected from in-store petitions.
Peacocks, which has 563 stores and 48 concessions, and parent company the Peacock Group, collapsed under a debt mountain in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths, placing 7,500 jobs in jeopardy. KPMG has already announced 249 redundancies from Peacocks head office in Cardiff.
Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold last month in a deal that will lead to 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures. Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores and will continue to employ 2,400 staff.
Peacocks can trace its history back to Warrington, in Cheshire, in 1884 when Albert Frank Peacock founded Peacock's Penny Bazaar. In 1940, his son Harold moved the business to its current base in Cardiff.