// Peacocks revealed as preferred bidder for Bonmarché
// Bonmarché fell into administration last month
// 30 stores could close next month
Bonmarché could be rescued by Peacocks after the value fashion retailer was revealed as the preferred bidder.
A total of 30 underperforming and unsustainable Bonmarché stores could be earmarked for closure by December 11, which would result in several redundancies.
Joint administrators Tony Wright, Alastair Massey and Phil Pierce, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory, chose a preferred bid package from Peacocks after the deadline for bids to buy the business ended on November 15.
The deal, which is subject to further due diligence and negotiations by the bidder with landlords, is regarded as “the best opportunity to maximise returns for creditors and sell the business on a going concern basis”.
Bonmarche collapsed into administration in October, which put around 2900 jobs at risk, and 25 head office and middle management roles were immediately made redundant.
Following the administration, Spectre Holdings boss Philip Day lost his £5.73 million equity investment in Bonmarche.
The retailer’s 285 remaining stores will continue to trade, while the performance of the business is kept under review.
Bonmarche said the future of the remaining stores remains uncertain and are subject to negotiation between any future purchaser and landlords.
“After a robust marketing process for Bonmarché, the business attracted a range of bids,” Wright said.
“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.”
A Peacocks spokesperson told Retail Gazette: “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.”
Peacocks is owned by Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group – the same company owned by Day that Bonmarche used to be a part of before it collapsed.