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Fashion chain Bonmarché calls in administrators | Business

The fashion chain Bonmarché has called in administrators, putting nearly 3,000 jobs at risk.

The Wakefield-based retailer, which sells fashion for women over 50 and has 318 shops, said it had got into difficulties after a “sustained period of challenging trading conditions and cashflow pressure”.

Administrators said they would continue to trade Bonmarché while assessing options for the future for the business. All stores remain open for the time being and no redundancies have been made.

Tony Wright, a joint administrator and partner at FRP Advisory who was appointed on Friday afternoon, said: “Bonmarché 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.” He said he hoped to find a buyer for the business.

Helen Connolly, the chief executive of Bonmarché, said: “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.”

Bonmarché, founded in 1982, is the latest in a string of high street chains to get into difficulties as shoppers rein in spending amid economic uncertainty while staff costs and business rates have risen. Profits have also come under pressure as the value of the pound has fallen against the dollar, increasing the cost of buying goods overseas.

Karen Millen, Coast, House of Fraser and Debenhams have all fallen into administration in the past 18 months while New Look and Marks & Spencer have been closing stores.

Bonmarché, which previously went into administration with sister chain Peacocks in 2012, issued a string of profits warnings in the past year, saying it expected to make a loss of up to £6m this year.

The collapse comes after Bonmarché was taken private by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill owner Philip Day’s Dubai-based acquisition vehicle Spectre in August.

The value of Day’s £5m-plus investment in Bonmarché will be wiped out in the administration and it is not clear if Day, who also owns Jaeger, Austin Reed and Peacocks, will try and maintain control of the business.

Bonmarché’s problems emerged on the same day that Watt Brothers, the Scottish department store chain, also called in administrators with 220 immediate redundancies and nearly 90 further jobs on the line.

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