// Bonmarche collapses into administration, putting almost 2900 jobs and 318 stores at risk
// It is the second time Bonmarche has fallen into administration in 7 years
// Edinburgh Woollen Mill owner Philip Day purchased a majority stake in the womenswear retailer earlier this year
Bonmarche has collapsed into administration, putting almost 2900 jobs at risk.
Tony Wright, Alastair Massey and Phil Pierce, of specialist advisory firm FRP, were appointed as joint administrators for the firm on Friday night last week.
FRP said the retailer would continue to trade with no immediate job losses or store closures, as it assesses options to secure its future and searches for a buyer.
The womenswear retailer employs 2887 staff, including 200 at its head office, and operates 318 stores across the UK.
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The news makes Bonmarche the latest victim of the high street downturn after a “sustained period of challenging trading conditions”, administrators 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,” Wright said.
“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.”
The administrators also stressed that “all stores remain open and no redundancies have been made”.
Meanwhile, Bonmarche chief executive Helen Connolly said the business had examined other options to stay afloat, including refinancing or a possible CVA.
However, they ultimately felt those options wouldn’t “fundamentally change the core challenges facing the business”.
“It is with deep regret and sadness that we have appointed administrators,” she said.
“Over the last 18 months, trading in our stores and market conditions on the high street have significantly worsened. This has overwhelmed the business and its financial position.
“The high street is going through a period of historic difficulty and we have been unable to weather the economic headwinds impacting the whole of the retail sector.
“We have spent a number of months examining our business model and looking for alternatives. But we have been sadly forced to conclude that under the present terms of business, our model simply does not work.
“We have examined other options, including that of a CVA or refinancing, but do not believe these options will fundamentally change the core challenges facing the business.
“We are sadly no longer in a position to demonstrate to our shareholders that the business can continue as a going concern.”
Bonmarche has recently struggled with rising costs, such as business rates and rising wages, as well as dwindling consumer spending and footfall on UK high streets.
It is the second time the retailer 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.
Bonmarche was later floated on the London stock exchange before Philip Day, the retail tycoon owner of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, purchased a majority stake earlier this year.
A large number of shareholders then sold their stakes to Day, giving him a 95 per cent ownership in the retailer.
A spokesperson for Spectre, Day’s investment company, said: “We are disappointed with the result of our investment in Bonmarche, but our primary thought at this time is with the business’ employees and families.”