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Bonmarche collapses into administration again
02 December 2020

Value women’s clothing chain Bonmarche has collapsed into administration for the second time in just over a year, putting more than 1,500 jobs under threat.

RSM Restructuring Advisory, which has been appointed to handle the administration, said all Bonmarche’s 225 stores will remain open and there are no redundancies yet as it looks to agree a rescue deal.

It comes after Bonmarche plunged into administration in October 2019, before administrators agreed a rescue deal with retailer Peacocks, part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group.

But the deal saw 30 stores shut just before Christmas last year, affecting hundreds of jobs at the group.

Damian Webb, joint administrator of RSM Restructuring Advisory, said: “Bonmarche remains an attractive brand with a loyal customer base.

“It is our intention to continue to trade whilst working closely with management to explore the options for the business.

We will shortly be marketing the business for sale, and based on the interest to date we anticipate there will be a number of interested parties.”

Bonmarche’s demise marks the latest amid a retail bloodbath sparked off by the pandemic.

Around 25,000 jobs at risk after Sir Philip Green’s Topshop empire Arcadia called in administrators on Monday and Debenhams starting a liquidation process on Tuesday after JD Sports pulled out of a possible rescue.

But it has been a chequered recent past for Bonmarche, even before the coronavirus crisis.

The group has been hit hard by rising costs as business rates have soared and the minimum wage has been hiked, which has combined with a shift towards online shopping.

Last year’s administration came after a series of profit warnings from the group.

It had also hit the wall with sister company Peacocks in 2012, before the pair were rescued by private equity firm Sun European Partners.

Bonmarche was then floated on the London Stock Exchange the following year until retail tycoon Philip Day completed his takeover of the struggling retailer earlier in 2020.

Edinburgh Woollen Group's namesake brand had been placed into administration, along with its heritage fashion brands Jaeger and Austin Reed. Mike Ashley's Frasers Group is said to be circling Jaeger and Marks & Spencer has also held talks about a possible purchase of the brand.

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