Peacocks has been chosen as the preferred bidder to acquire Bonmarché, it was announced this morning.
FRP Advisory was appointed administrator for the troubled retailer in October, and joint administrators Tony Wright, Alastair Massey and Phil Pierce oversaw the administration process.
Peacocks will now enter a period of negotiations with the administrator and landlords.
FRP Advisory confirmed that 30 “underperforming and unsustainable” stores will now be closed before 11 December.
Some 25 head office and management roles were made redundant during the administration process, and the company said there is “potential” for further redundancies.
Meanwhile, 285 stores will continue to trade while business performance is kept under review.
FRP Advisory said: “The future of all remaining stores cannot be assured at this time and remains subject to negotiation between any future purchaser and landlords given the period of historical market difficulty on the high street.”
A range of offers was submitted by parties seeking all or part of the business, and the final deadline for bids was 15 November.
The bid package from Peacocks was chosen by administrators, who felt it was “the best opportunity to maximise returns for creditors and sell the business on a going concern basis”.
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.”
He added: “There is still a lot more work to do before we can secure the future of the business.
“Whilst 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 spokesperson for Peacocks 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.”