Shops in firing line as closure axe looms large

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STAFF at prominent shops in Hucknall and Bulwell are on tenterhooks as store closures loom large after the latest twist surrounding the collapse of the Peacock Group.

The Dispatch reported last week on the company, which owns the Peacocks and Bon Marche chains, having to go into administration under the mountain of debt.

There are Bon Marche and Peacocks outlets on Hucknall High Street and a Bon Marche on Main Street, Bulwell.

A buyer, Sun European Partners, has bought the Bon Marche chain in a multi-million deal which will preserve the brand.

But Hucknall and Bulwell workers fear for their livelihoods after it was announced that 1,400 jobs and 160 of the 390-store portfolio will go as part of the move.

Staff have apparently been told which Bon Marche shops will go, but Sun says it is too early to release a list of those sites earmarked for the chop.

The outlook is even more bleak for Peacocks as administrators KPMG continue to trawl for an investor to take on the network of 533 shops as an ongoing concern.

Chris Lavert, joint administrator at KPMG, said: “Given the hostile conditions on the high street, we’re pleased to have concluded a sale with Sun European Partners.

“The deal is a positive step forward in underscoring Bon Marche’s future.”

Bon Marche was founded in 1982 and in 2002 became part of the Peacock Group, which faces a debt pile of £750 million.

It was kept out of the overall administration to allow sale talks to progress.

The Hucknall shop has been open for 15 years and employs seven members of staff.

Its Bulwell counterpart has been open for up to 20 years and employs six staff.

Matthias Gundlach, vice-president of Sun, said Bon Marche was “a great brand with a “loyal customer base of regular repeat buyers” and offers value-for-money and a “unique in-store service experience”.