Following Bargain Booze owner Conviviality’s successful flotation on AIM, clothing retailer Bonmarché is the next retailer likely to list on the junior market.

Following Bargain Booze owner Conviviality’s successful flotation on AIM, clothing retailer Bonmarché is the next retailer likely to list on the junior market.

Bonmarché is expected to be valued at about £130m.

If the float gets away successfully, it will be testament to the strides made in turning around Bonmarché, which only 18 months ago was picked up by its present owners through a pre-pack administration and the wreckage of the Peacocks Group.

Since then, led by new management, unprofitable stores have been closed to create a viable portfolio and now not one of its 264 stores makes a loss.

The retailer has sensibly refocused on its core customer - the growing demographic of women aged over 50 - and has sharpened product and prices as well as its multichannel operations.

The improvements have shown through in Bonmarché’s most recent figures; like-for-likes were up almost 13% in the first half of the current year.

But is all this enough to justify a float? Bonmarché was founded more than 30 years ago. Like its customers, it’s no spring chicken so how much growth can really be expected in the years ahead?

Similarly, impressive as the turnaround looks so far does the retailer have enough of a track record to demonstrate that success is the rule, not the exception?

What is to stop other retailers, such as Primark, muscling in on the growing mature women’s fashion market?

Not a single penny raised through Bonmarché’s IPO will go to the retailer. The proceeds are destined for its private equity owner, an affiliate of Sun European. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what sort of return public investors might make in future remains uncertain.

Maybe now is a good time for it to float but, until performance can be better gauged, Bonmarché is probably not one for widows and orphans.