Peacocks is poised to buy Bonmarché out of administration after being identified as the peferred bidder for the embattled business.
Administrators FRP Advisory said further talks would now take place with Peacocks in order to secure a rescue deal, having received a number of initial offers for the chain.
Despite the emergence of Peacocks as a potential buyer, administrators said 30 underperforming Bonmarché stores will still close by December 11. Staff at those shops could be made redundant. FRP has already axed 25 head office and middle-management roles as part of the administration process.
Bonmarché’s remaining 285 stores will continue trading in the immediate future and the “vast majority” of those are expected to be kept as part of any deal with Peacocks.
FRP Advisory partner and joint administrator Tony Wright said: “After a robust marketing process for Bonmarché, the business attracted a range of bids.
“We have now begun advanced negotiations with Peacocks on a going concern basis and aim to complete a transaction that will maximise returns for creditors, but also provide the best opportunity to keep the retailer open and protect the greatest number of jobs.
“There is still a lot more work to do before we can secure the future of the business. While 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.
“We deeply regret that, as part of the administration process, 30 stores will close and staff may be made redundant. We will be working with the Redundancy Payments Office to support the affected employees.”
A Peacocks spokesman said: “We are working very hard to reach a deal that secures the future of the company and the greatest number of jobs. But given the unprecedented pressures the business continues to face, it is also important to recognise this cannot be assured at this time.
“We will now enter a period of advanced negotiations with the administrator and landlords to find a way forward that provides a sustainable, long-term future for the business.”