Around 240 workers at Bonmarche could lose their job when the collapsed clothing retailer closes 30 under-performing stores as sister chain Peacock looks set to buy it out of administration.

The stores, which employ around eight people each, will close down on December 11, administrators acting for the business said, and the staff will “potentially be made redundant”.

The remaining 285 stores will continue to trade, but will also be kept under review, and their future cannot be guaranteed.
“We deeply regret that, as part of the administration process, 30 stores will close and staff may be made redundant,” said administrator Tony Wright, from FRP Advisory.

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The deal comes a month after Bonmarche collapsed into administration, putting a potential 2,887 jobs at risk across the country.

On top of the jobs lost in store, 25 people from middle management and head office have been laid off.

The closures come as part of a deal with sister company Peacocks, which itself entered administration in 2012, along with Bonmarche. The two were rescued at the time by private equity firm Sun European Partners.

However, administrators stressed that the deal still hinges on negotiations with landlords, and due diligence, and could yet fail.

“Whilst we are optimistic that a transaction can be completed, ultimately it will depend on ongoing negotiations between our preferred bidder and landlords on market rents and there remains a risk that the business could cease to trade,” Mr Wright said.

Nine companies are understood to have been in the running for Bonmarche, but Peacocks was chosen as the preferred bidder after the deadline passed on November 15.

Bonmarche fell into administration in the middle of October after a series of profit warnings.

Incoming Npower owner Eon is likely to be disappointed as the company’s current parent slashed its outlook for the business in the full year.

Innogy, which sold Npower as part of an asset swap with the German energy giant, said it now expects adjusted operating profit at its retail unit to run between €200 and €300 million (£170-255 million), a €100 million (£85 million) reduction from its previous range.

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It rounds off a tough 12 months for the business which last December was forced to call off a planned merger with the retail arm of SSE.

That arm has since been bought by challenger brand Ovo Energy.

Energy companies have been struggling with a tough market in the last year after Ofgem introduced a cap on energy bills for customers on standard tariffs.

Online grocer Ocado has unveiled plans to open its first mini-robotic warehouse in the UK, in Bristol, with the creation of about 815 jobs in the area.

Its new site will be capable of handling more than 30,000 orders a week compared with around 85,000 from its latest large site being built in Purfleet in east London.

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Ocado’s retail arm is part of a £750 million joint venture with Marks & Spencer, which will see M&S products available through the online grocer from September 2020.

M&S partnered with Ocado after buying a 50% stake in its grocery division.

It comes as Ocado is looking to strike more deals to provide technology services to other retailers, which is a fast growing source of income.

The group is looking to widen into a business that sells its software and robotic warehouse technology to other supermarket chains worldwide.

It has already sealed a raft of international deals, with the likes of France’s Casino and Kroger in the US.



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