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Revived Bonmarché vows to win back older customers

Bonmarché will “sharpen price points” and return to its previous 50-plus target market, after being bought out of administration six weeks ago by private equity group Sun European.

In her first interview as managing director of the value retailer, Beth Butterwick said Bonmarché would focus more on practical clothing for “value-conscious” women up to a size 24, having strayed into the 40-plus market.

She said: “At Bonmarché for the past few years, the steer has been to take the collection younger and it hasn’t worked. The customer had become frustrated because they couldn’t find clothing that was stylish, but also easy care and easy wear.”

Butterwick, who joined the retailer in October as brand director, said retailers have left a gap in the market for women aged 50-plus.

She said retailers traditionally targeting that age group, such as Bhs, have decided to focus on younger age groups, while others such as Ethel Austin have a reduced presence on the high street, leaving these women unable to find the clothing they want.

“Where retailers have walked away, we have a huge following for the Bonmarché brand,” she said.

Butterwick said “broadly speaking” the business structure is the same, although responsibilities previously centralised by Peacock Group, such as logistics, human resources and property, have been absorbed by some senior Bonmarché managers.

Sun European was unable to comment on whether any redundancies have been made. The private equity group bought the retailer in a pre-pack administration deal on January 20.

It bought 390 of its 393 stores and has confirmed 255 stores will remain open, saving about 2,600 staff in total.

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