Bonmarche collapses into administration as thousands of jobs at risk

Bonmarche has become the latest victim of the high street downturn after collapsing into administration, putting 2,887 jobs at risk.

The womenswear retailer, which targets the over-50s market, was placed into administration by its directors after a “sustained period of challenging trading conditions and cash flow pressure”, which meant the business was unable to meet its financial obligations.

The Wakefield-based company employs 2,887 people, including 200 staff at its head office, and trades through 318 stores across the UK, online and by telephone.

Tony Wright, Joint Administrator and Partner at FRP Advisory, said: “Bonmarche has been a staple on the UK high street for nearly three decades, but the persistent challenges facing retail have taken their toll and led to the administration.

“There is every sign that we can continue trading while we market Bonmarche for sale and believe that there will be interest to take on the business.”

Bonmarche places itself as a value fashion retailer. Pic: Bonmarche
Image: Bonmarche places itself as a value fashion retailer. Pic: Bonmarche

Mr Wright, Alastair Massey and Phil Pierce, of specialist advisory firm FRP, were appointed as joint administrators of Bonmarche on Friday.

“All stores remain open and no redundancies have been made,” the administrators said in a statement.

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It is the second time Bonmarche has fallen into administration in seven years, after it was previously bought in a rescue deal by private equity firm Sun European Partners in 2012.

In June, Bonmarche recommended its shareholders accept a previously rejected £5.7m takeover bid by billionaire Philip Day, as bad trading conditions continue to hit the chain.

The retailer warned that its auditor was likely to include a reference to the “uncertainty with regard to going concern” due to the trading troubles. Bonmarche shares tumbled 22% after the announcement.

A large number of shareholders then sold their stakes to Mr Day, the owner of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill chain, which includes Jane Norman, Austin Reed and Peacocks, giving him a 95% ownership in the retailer.

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