Fresh blow for Falkirk town centre as Bonmarché follows Watt Brothers into administration

Falkirk’s struggling town centre retail scene has suffered a second blow within 24 hours, with news that women’s fashion chain Bonmarché has gone into administration.

Saturday, 19th October 2019, 11:02 am

The town’s branch, at 35 High Street, is among 318 across the UK whose staff risk losing their jobs - although efforts will be made to find a buyer.

Meanwhile long-established Watt Brothers, which had a Falkirk branch in the Howgate shopping centre, folded yesterday with the loss of 229 jobs.

Management at Falkirk’s Bonmarché store are unable to comment, but it has been confirmed it will remain open and no immediate redundancies will be made as work proceeds to find a potential rescue deal.

It will be the second major crisis the chain has faced in recent years, as it fell into administration in 2012 before being rescued by private equity firm Sun European Partners.

The company was later floated on the London Stock Exchange before retail tycoon Philip Day purchased a majority stake earlier this year.

A large number of shareholders then sold their stakes to Day, giving him a 95 per cent ownership in the struggling retailer.

By contrast Watt Brothers’ staff have been made redundant with immediate effect.

The firm’s Glasgow store will continue to trade for the time being, with a stock clearance event due to begin today.

Blair Nimmo, Joint Administrator and UK Head of Restructuring at administrator KPMG, said: “Despite the director’s tireless efforts to increase margins, cut costs and recapitalise the business, Watt Brothers continued to incur trading losses as a result of the well-publicised challenges being experienced across the retail sector.”

“Ultimately this has led to the unfortunate demise of a well-known and highly-regarded business”.

At Bonmarché, specialist advisory firm FRP, administrator, has said persistent retail challenges have taken their toll - but that it expects there will be interest to take on the business.