WORKERS at Huddersfield-based retailer Bon Marché are waiting anxiously to hear about their future this weekend.
Some 200 employees at the firm’s Grange Moor headquarters and distribution centre were sent home during the week amid talks over selling the high street women’s wear retailer.
Now it is understood that staff have been told they may be able to return to work on Monday – if the firm’s potential buyer is able to complete financial arrangements.
Employees have been told to expect a phone call from managers tomorrow. Failing that, they have been asked to phone the company on Monday morning to check on the situation.
A spokesman for Bon Marché said there were no developments to report late yesterday and that he could not add to a previous statement that the business is in “advanced and exclusive discussions with a potential purchaser”.
The future of the chain was thrown into doubt after the firm’s parent company, The Peacock Group, fell into administration, putting some 9,600 jobs at risk.
Insolvency experts at KPMG have been appointed administrators for Peacocks – which has 611 stores and 49 concessions across the UK – as well as its parent company The Peacock Group.
Bon Marché, which employs 3,800 staff and operates some 394 stores, has not entered administration.
Bon Marché has a store at New Street in Huddersfield while Cardiff-based Peacocks has a store at the Piazza Shopping Centre and another in Brighouse.
The update comes as Government figures show that price cuts on the high street helped retailers shift more stock from their shelves in December.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show UK retail volumes grew by 0.6% in December compared with the previous month – with the increase driven by clothing chains and department stores.
Spending on big-ticket items was still being held back as sales at household goods stores fell by 2.4% month-on-month – the biggest drop since April, 2010.
Economists have warned that the sector will struggle this year, despite the growth in sales last month, as shoppers continue to cut back on non-essential spending and the economy teeters on the edge of recession.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “The risk remains that pressurised and worried consumers will put away their purses and wallets and hunker down for an extended period after a late flurry of spending in the run-up to Christmas and then taking advantage of the best of the bargains in the clearance sales.”