Up to half of Bonmarché stores are likely to closed or be offloaded as part of a rescue deal to salvage the heart of the business.

The front runner to acquire the value fashion chain, private equity firm Sun European, hopes to buy about 230 of the 397 shops, it is understood.

The remaining Bonmarché stores face closure.

It is thought restructuring specialist GA Europe has teamed up with Sun European on the deal, but details of the relationship are unclear.

It is possible the two could be co-investors or that GA will be retained on an agency basis to close or sell underperforming parts of the business after any deal.

Retail Week has learned that GA and possibly Sun European had been keen to buy the whole of the Peacocks Group, Bonmarché’s parent, but that has proved impossible.

It is likely that Bonmarché may be put through a pre-pack administration to facilitate the deal.

KPMG is waiting in the wings as administrator after Peacocks filed a notice of intent to appoint administrators on Monday, for both the Peacocks and Bonmarché businesses.

Sun European is thought to approve of the current Bonmarché management team and its plans in terms of stores and refreshing product.

No comment was available from Sun European or GA.