1,400 jobs could go at fashion chain Bonmarche

 

Bonmarche, the fashion chain which was part of collapsed retailer Peacocks Group, was sold today in a deal that could lead to 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures.

Private equity firm Sun European Partners, which also owns the Alexon and Jacques Vert brands, has bought the women's clothing retailer out of administration in a so-called pre-pack deal for an undisclosed sum.

Sun, which bought the entire chain apart from three stores, has said it will continue to run 230 stores but will close about 160.

The store closures mean it will continue to employ about 2,400 of the chain's 3,800 strong workforce.

The staff in stores set for the axe are being told today and the outlets are expected to shut in the near future. The company said it was too early to release a list of sites to be closed.

Bonmarche, founded in 1982, was part of the Peacocks Group, which last week collapsed into administration under its £750 million debt mountain in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths, placing 9,600 jobs in jeopardy.

But whereas administrators at KPMG were called in to take charge of the Peacocks chain, Bonmarche was kept out of administration to allow sale talks to continue.

Pre-pack deals, where a chain is placed into administration and immediately bought in a previously-arranged deal, allow the new buyers to take on the chain but write off many of its debts.

The deal means the Bonmarche name will survive on the high street, albeit with fewer stores. The chain is one of the UK's largest women's-only value retailers and sells affordable clothing in a wide range of sizes to women over 45 years old.

Chris Laverty, joint administrator at KPMG, said: "Given the hostile conditions on the high street, we're pleased to have concluded a sale with Sun European Partners.

"The deal is a positive step forward in underscoring Bonmarche's future."

Sun, which is ultimately based in the US, will also take on Bonmarche's head office in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Its vice-president, Matthias Gundlach, said it was working with current management to put "a sustainable growth programme" in place.

He added: "Bonmarche is a great brand that operates in an attractive niche of the apparel sector that we know very well.

"Thanks to its strong range with a good value-for-money proposition and a unique in-store service experience, Bonmarche has a loyal customer base of regular repeat buyers."

Before Sun bought the chain - for a reported £10 million - stores in Balham and St Albans were closed with the loss of 12 jobs.

A third store in Perth, which is "not commercially viable", has not been included in the deal and the administrators expect to wind the store down, resulting in seven redundancies.

The sale of Bonmarche will free up administrators to look for a buyer for the Peacocks chain, which has 563 stores and 48 concessions.

It is understood that numerous private equity firms including Sun and clothing firm Edinburgh Woollen Mill are interested in buying the chain, while Tesco is reported to be interested in some of its stores.

Private equity firm Op Capita, which is in the process of buying Comet from Kesa Electricals, is also expected to assess Peacocks' potential.

A total of 50 firms are thought to have registered an interest and initial bids are expected by the end of the month.

The administrators, who have kept the stores open while they seek a buyer, last week made 249 staff at its head office in Cardiff redundant - nearly half the workforce.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Citifocus Ltd: Product Development - Asset Management

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with significant product d...

Citifocus Ltd: Credit Ratings - Banking Sector

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Leading global bank seeks experienced credit analy...

Citifocus Ltd: Economic Crime Investigation & Analysis

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with a high degree...

Citifocus Ltd: Snr Risk Analyst - Capital & Liquidity

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with superior academics an...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital