Bonmarché falls into administration in third high street collapse in three days

Bonmarché fell into administration in the third high street collapse in three days. Photo: PA
Bonmarché fell into administration in the third high street collapse in three days. Photo: PA

Bonmarché has fallen into administration, marking the third major retail collapse in as many days as the UK high street battles to survive the pandemic.

The latest retail casualty leaves the fate of 1,500 jobs and 225 stores hanging in the balance. But administrators said all stores will remain open and no redundancies have been announced, as Bonmarché looks for a buyer.

The women’s fashion chain has called in administrators for the second time in under two years. RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP were appointed on 30 November.

Joint administrator Damian Webb of RSM Restructuring Advisory, which was appointed on 30 November, said: “Bonmarché 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.

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“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. We would like to thank the Bonmarché staff for continuing to support the business during these challenging and uncertain times for those individuals personally.”

It comes just two days after Arcadia, which TopShop, Dorothy Perkins, and Miss Selfridge, also filed for administration on Monday, leaving the fate of 500 stores and 14,000 workers in limbo.

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Then on Tuesday, Debenhams confirmed the 242-year-old department store would be wound down, threatening 12,000 roles in one of the biggest waves of job losses since the pandemic hit. Experts said Debenhams’ rescue talks were scuppered by the collapse of Arcadia, which operates concessions within Debenhams’ department stores.

Around 70,000 jobs have gone from retail so far this year, according to the Centre for Economic and Business Research, and 15,800 stores have closed as the virus and lockdowns have accelerated high street woes.

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Bonmarché was rescued by Peacocks last year after calling in administrators in October 2019. But Peacocks’ parent company Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) fell into administration on 7 November, and Peacocks followed suit 12 days later after EWM failed to find a buyer.

The high street troubles come as England’s one-month lockdown came to an end, allowing ‘non-essential’ retailers to reopen their doors from Wednesday. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) estimates the shutdown cost firms £2bn in lost sales in the crucial pre-Christmas trading period.

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