Bonmarché Collapses Into Administration for Second Time

Bonmarché has become the third UK retail chain to collapse within three days, though it will not close immediately.

High street fashion chain Bonmarché has entered administration, following on the heels of Arcadia and Debenhams on Monday and Tuesday. The chain operates 225 stores in the UK and employs around 1,500 staff.

Administrators said that the shops would continue to trade until further notice, adding that no redundancies or closures have yet been scheduled as the business looks for a buyer.

“Bonmarché remains an attractive brand with a loyal customer base,” said joint administrator Damian Webb of RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP, which was appointed on 30 November. “It is our intention to continue to trade whilst working closely with management to explore the options for the business.”

This marks the second time in a year that Bonmarché has entered administration, the first having come in October 2019. The chain was owned by retail tycoon Philip Day, whose other chains – Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks and Pondem Home stores – also collapsed into administration in early November.

Around 70,000 British retail jobs have been lost so far this year, according to the Centre for Economic and Business Research, and around 15,800 stores have closed. A good deal of this has been sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures reducing customer footfall in city centres; the British Retail Consortium estimates that the month-long lockdown in England from 2 November to 2 December cost businesses around £2 billion in lost sales.

In Bonmarché’s case, however, troubles began before the global health crisis erupted. Its declining profitability has been linked to rising business rates and a general consumer shift towards online shopping.

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