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Bonmarché closes in Dereham

PUBLISHED: 10:28 14 March 2012

Dereham shoppers were dealt another blow yesterday after the women's fashion store Bonmarché closed.

This morning, clothes remain in the shop and the lights are still on in Wright’s Walk unit but nothing has been put up telling customers what has happened.

A manager of the Dereham Bonmarché, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed yesterday that the store was closing and eight staff were being made redundant.

The closure comes just weeks after Peacocks, which also sold affordable clothes in the same street, ceased trading after the brand went into administration with The Peacock Group in January.

Bonmarché, founded in 1982, was part of the Peacocks Group, which collapsed into administration under its £750million debt mountain in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths.

Private equity firm Sun European Partners, which also owns the Alexon and Jacques Vert brands, bought the Bonmarché brand in a so-called pre-pack deal for an undisclosed sum.

Sun, which bought the entire chain apart from three stores, said it would continue to run 230 stores - including the Wright’s Walk shop - but said it would close about 160.

The store closures meant the firm would continue to employ about 2,400 of the chain’s 3,800 strong workforce.

Peacocks was sold to Edinburgh Woollen Mill last month, which resulted in more than 80 jobs and five stores shutting including the Wright’s Walk business. The Dereham store employed 12 people.

But another 80 jobs were saved as a result of the sale with the new owners pledging to keep shops in Lowestoft, Gorleston, Thetford, Downham Market, Wisbech and King’s Lynn open.

Both Peacocks and Bonmarché have been at Wright’s Walk after the shopping development was built about five years ago.

Just before Christmas the newsagent, stationer and book seller Chambers closed after being in Dereham town centre for 175 years and the historic George Hotel, on the top of Swaffham Hill, mysteriously closed on New Year’s Day.

Another prominent Dereham pub, the Cherry Tree, closed at the beginning of last year after serving the town for more than 200 years.

But in April last year national pub chain JD Wetherspoon opened the Romany Rye at the site of the former Phoenix Hotel in Church Street.

A new charity shop, the Norfolk Hospice Tapping House, based in Snettisham, near King’s Lynn, will be opening soon on Dereham’s High Street.

What do you think about the retail situation in Dereham? Email dft.letters@archant.co.uk

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