THE Bon Marche stores on High Street, Hucknall, and Main Street, Bulwell, are both due to close — but staff are on tenterhooks waiting to find out when the axe will fall.
The ladies’ clothing shops and fashion outlet Peacocks, also on High Street, were all owned by the same parent company, Peacock Group, which went into administration because of debts running into hundreds of millions of pounds.
Thousands of jobs were thrown into jeopardy.
A buyer, Sun European Partners, has bought the Bon Marche chain, But it immediately announced that 160 of the 390 shops nationwide will close.
Now news has been revealed that these will include the Hucknall outlet, which is plastered with ‘closing down sale’ posters, and the Bulwell store, which has a notice in the window confirming its closure.
Staff refused to comment this week. But the news will be a heavy blow to the shopping centres of both towns, which have already been hit hard by the recession.
Hucknall’s Bon Marche store has been open for an estimated 15 years and employs seven members of staff, while the Bulwell branch was opened about 18 years ago and six people work there.
Both shops have a loyal clientele and a lot of their customers were visibly upset at the news, some of them bursting into tears. Both shops have enthusiastically backed the Bon Marche charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, with coffee mornings and other fundraising initiatives.
The Bon Marche stores were acquired by Peacocks in 2002 for £55 million. But the company was put under pressure to sell them to help repay some of its massive debt of £600 million.
Meanwhile, thousands of workers at the beleaguered Peacocks company have been given renewed hope that their jobs might be saved after it emerged that a Pakistani billionaire is working on a rescue bid for the chain.
The bid may save 600 Peacocks stores and it is hoped that the Hucknall outlet could be among them.
Alshair Fiyaz has teamed up with Danish investment fund Solstra Capital to table a second-round bid for the group, which is currently being run by administrators KPMG.
The business tycoon, who made his fortune in the textile industry and whose family wealth is estimated at £3 billion, is understood to be working with Peacocks’ senior management team, including managing director Tim Bettley.