Popular clothing chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) has been granted a 10-day extension in a bid to avoid insolvency - while 24,000 jobs are at risk.

The company, which also owns Peacocks and Jaeger, lodged a notice of intention to appoint administrators, according to documents filed with the High Court.

Staff, many of whom now face unemployment, were informed local lockdown restrictions had left the business struggling.

However, the chain has now been granted a further 10 working days to speak to potential suitors and work on a rescue plan.

Bosses have already started closing 50 stores with 600 job losses, while they work through securing backing for the rest of the business.

READ MORE: Edinburgh Woollen Mill on brink of insolvency with 24,000 jobs at risk

Meanwhile, it is understood a further 100 to 150 stores across the group are being earmarked for closure while talks continue with landlords.

Bosses wrote to staff this morning, warning them that the national and local lockdowns had hit sales very heavily, and that the recent months had been a very challenging time.

It said: “Two weeks ago we wrote to you to say that we had applied to the High Court to protect the group from creditors for a short time, while we worked on a longer term plan to rescue as much of it as possible from the devastating effects of Covid-19 and the lockdowns.

“Since then we have been working on that plan and have made good progress, but it is a complex and difficult process.

“We are speaking to a number of parties who are interested in either buying parts of the business or offering investment.

“What is clear is that this process will mean a lot of change for all of us and inevitably a significant number of store closures.

“We are pleased to say though that today the High Court has agreed to extend the breathing space for another two weeks to give us more time to work on the details and further pursue these opportunities.

“We will use this time as best we can to protect the businesses and save jobs.”

The company, owned by businessman Philip Day, is in talks with the owner of shirt-maker TM Lewin – Torque Brands – to buy Jaeger, according to reports by Sky News, and other parties are said to be interested.

Mr Day is also reported to be trying to save Peacocks, with a capital injection from US hedge fund Davidson Kempner.