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Exclusive: Bonmarché may close 100 stores if not sold

Bonmarché has earmarked around a third of its store portfolio for closure if the business cannot be sold, Drapers understands. 

Last month the value womenswear retailer appointed Tony Wright, Alastair Massey and Phil Pierce, partners at FRP Advisory, as joint administrators. They are continuing to trade the business while assessing options to secure its future.

Talks with prospective buyers are ongoing but Drapers understands around 100 of its 318 UK stores have been earmarked for possible closure if Bonmarché cannot be sold. Stores in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, Market Harborough in Leicestershire and Kirkcaldy in Scotland, among others, currently have “closing down Sale” signs in their shop windows.

A source close to the situation told Drapers that, if a buyer can be found, the stores may not close. The retailer is understood to be in discussions with several interested parties. 

The joint administrators told Drapers: “All stores remain open for business and up for sale as we continue to explore all options for the future of Bonmarché. As part of our review of the business, we have identified a proportion of our store network that could close if a buyer can’t be found. With a considerable amount of interest from prospective buyers, we remain confident that a sale can be achieved.”

The Wakefield-based business employs 2,887 people, including 200 staff at its head office, and also trades online and by phone. 

Edinburgh Woollen Mill owner Philip Day’s investment vehicle, Spectre, bought a majority share of the business in April, triggering a mandatory takeover bid. 

Readers' comments (1)

  • Even if BM is sold at least 100 stores will close (probably more) The HO will need a big reduction in overheads and a massive improvement in product and online will be needed.

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