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Timeline: A history of Bonmarché

With the announcement last week that womenswear retailer Bonmarché is planning to go public, Drapers look back at the history of the chain.

1982 – Bonmarché is founded by Gurchait and Gurnaik Chima, who set about building up the company from a stall at Huddersfield open market. Their ambition is to “ensure mature women feel fabulous about themselves, in good quality, affordable, stylish clothing”.

1985 – 2002 - The first Bonmarché store opens in Doncaster. This leads to the opening of more than 200 stores across the UK.

2002 – The business is sold to the Peacock Group for £51.3m.

2007 – Bonmarché launches a collection with David Emanuel, the designer most famous for co-designing the late Princess Diana’s wedding dress in 1981.

2010 – The womenswear retailer launches a transactional website, The website sells clothing in sizes 12 to 24, footwear and accessories, as well as its David Emanuel range.

2011 – Bonmarché announces plans to expand overseas after opening up its website to international customers for the first time.

2012 – Following the administration of Peacocks, Bonmarché is acquired by Sun European Partners, a leading US based private-investment firm. The group also own the Jacques Vert chain here in the UK.

2012-2013 – The chain generates sales of £147m in the year to the end of March, with underlying profits of £9.1m.

October 2013 – Bonmarché signs a deal with the Garden Centre Group to open stores in up to four garden centre branches as it looks to tap into their mature customer base. The first store opens at Bicester Garden Centre in Oxfordshire.

October 2013 – Bonmarché reveals its intention to float on the stock market. Owners Sun European Partners are expected to sell around £50m of shares, giving the retailer a market value of up to £130m.


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