1,400 jobs to go in Bonmarche deal
Bonmarche, the fashion chain which was part of collapsed retailer Peacocks Group, has been sold in a deal that will 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 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.
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.