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Bonmarché sale and store closures will cost 1,400 jobs

Bonmarché’s pre-pack administration will allow the company’s brand to survive on the high street but 160 stores are to close

Bonmarché, the plus-sized womenswear chain of collapsed retailer Peacocks Group, has been sold in a pre-pack administration that will lead to 1,400 job losses.

Private equity firm Sun European Partners, which also owns the Alexon and Jacques Vert brands, bought the retailer that mainly sells to older women for an undisclosed sum, believed to be about £10m.

Sun said it would close about 160 stores which will lead to about 1,400 of Bonmarché’s 3,800 workforce losing their jobs. Staff in stores facing the axe were being told on Monday, but the company declined to issue a list of affected shops.

The deal comes days after Bonmarché’s parent company Peacocks Group collapsed into administration putting 9,600 jobs at risk. The administrator, KPMG, is still hoping to find a buyer for the historic chain which traces its roots back to 1884, but have warned of substantial job losses. Almost half of its head office staff in Cardiff were made redundant last week.

Bonmarché’s pre-pack administration, which allows a pre-arranged buyer to pick up profitable elements of the company without many of its debts, will allow the company’s brand to survive on the high street.

Chris Laverty, joint administrator at KPMG, said: “Given the hostile conditions on the high street, we’re pleased to have concluded a sale with Sun European Partners.

“The deal is a positive step forward in underscoring Bonmarché’s future.”

Sun’s vice-president Matthias Gundlach said was putting “a sustainable growth programme” in place.

“Bonmarché is a great brand that operates in an attractive niche of the apparel sector that we know very well. Thanks to its strong range with a good value-for-money proposition and a unique in-store service experience, Bonmarché has a loyal customer base of regular repeat buyers.”

It is the fourth retail deal in recent months for US-owned Sun following the acquisition of Alexon, Jacques Vert and American Golf.

A number of private equity firms, including Sun, and clothing chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill are understood to be among 50 firms to have registered an interested in buying Peacocks. Initial bids are expected by the end of the month.

Tesco is said to be interested in picking up some of its stores to expand its Express chain. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds