Bonmarché has chosen value retailer Peacocks as its preferred bidder, which would result in 30 “underperforming and unsustainable” stores shutting by 11 December and “potential” redundancies.
Twenty-five head office and middle management roles have already been axed throughout the administration process, Bonmarché said.
Its 285 remaining stores will continue to trade and the business will be kept under review as Peacocks finalises the deal with landlords.
Joint administrators Tony Wright, Alastair Massey and Phil Pierce at advisory firm FRP Advisory said Peacocks’ deal was the “best opportunity to maximise returns for creditors and sell the business on a going concern basis”.
However, they did warn that “the future of all remaining stores cannot be assured at this time and remain subject to negotiation between any future purchaser and landlords, given the period of historical market difficulty on the high street.”
Wright said: “After a robust marketing process for Bonmarché, the business attracted a range of bids. We have now begun advanced negotiations with Peacocks on a going concern basis and aim to complete a transaction that will maximise returns for creditors, but also provide the best opportunity to keep the retailer open and protect the greatest number of jobs. There is still a lot more work to do before we can secure the future of the business.
“Whilst we are optimistic that a transaction can be completed, ultimately, it will depend on ongoing negotiations between our preferred bidder and landlords on market rents and there remains a risk that the business could cease to trade. We deeply regret that, as part of the administration process, 30 stores will close and staff may be made redundant. We will be working with the Redundancy Payments Office to support the affected employees.”
The deadline for bids was 15 November. Drapers understands there were nine offers overall.
FRP was appointed as administrator on 18 October.
A spokesman for Peacocks said: “We are working very hard to reach a deal that secures the future of the company and the greatest number of jobs. But given the unprecedented pressures the business continues to face, it is also important to recognise this cannot be assured at this time.
“We will now enter a period of advanced negotiations with the administrator and landlords to find a way forward that provides a sustainable, long-term future for the business.”