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Peacock Group takes Bonmarché off the market

The Peacock Group is said to have taken mainstream womenswear chain Bonmarché off the market.

According to reports in the Sunday Telegraph, the Peacock Group, which also owns value fashion business Peacocks, has taken Bonmarché off the market altogether and is no longer looking to sell the business as a result of tough trading conditions on the high street.

In March it was reported that the Peacock Group had appointed corporate firm DC Advisory Partners to look at options for the 387-store Bonmarché chain, which targets women aged 45 and over.

A month later, in April it emerged that the Peacock Group had entered exclusive talks with private equity investor Duke Street about a possible sale of the Bonmarché business and in June Duke Street was said to have lined-up David Inglis, the former boss of Henleys Clothing, who was working as a consultant at Duke Street, to head up the business should a sale go ahead.

However, in July of this year it emerged that Duke Street had abandoned its interest in acquiring the business. The reason for the collapse of the negotiations was not known but there was speculation that the disparate interests of Peacocks’ owners, including hedge funds Och Ziff and Perry Capital and management led by chief executive Richard Kirk, added complexity to the situation.

Retail sales at Bonmarché in the 53 weeks to April 3, 2010 rose 2.9% to £194.2m - a 0.8% like-for-like drop. Pre-tax profits were £5.5m compared with £936,000 the previous year. It is understood to have performed well in the year just ended.

Elsewhere, Americana, owner of young fashion brands Hooch and Bench, is another business that has seen its sales process cancelled. Private equity firm HgCapital hired NM Rothschild earlier this year to sell Americana but sources close to the situation have confirmed that it is no longer being marketed to potential buyers.

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