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Gurchait Singh Chima; Respected businessman and founder of Bonmarche clothing chain.

HE was a respected businessman and driving force behind the Huddersfieldbased Bonmarche retail chain.

Gurchait Singh Chima, who has died aged 67, was born in Chima Kalan, Punjab, India, the middle child of three brothers.

He moved with the family to the UK when he was aged six and lived in Ely, Cambridgeshire, where he attended Souham Grammar School.

On leaving school he joined the family business set up by his father, Parkash Singh Chima, selling women's clothing at markets in East Anglia.

His father would wake the children at 5am daily for the market day ahead - instilling a strong work ethic in the boys from an early age.

Gurchait was trained by his father to become the head of the family business.

In 1982, Gurchait saw an opportunity to acquire a retail clothing business with 26 indoor market locations in the north of England.

This would mean investing every penny his father possessed but, backing his son's judgement, Mr Chima agreed.

Gurchait moved to Huddersfield, joining his cousin and new business partner, Surjeet Khela, to set up the base for the new company while his father continued to run the outdoor markets in East Anglia.

In 1984, once the new business was on a sound footing, Gurchait uprooted the family and moved to Huddersfield.

In 1985, the first Bonmarche high street store opened in Doncaster.

Over the following years as Gurchait headed the business he gained a love for travel as he continued to buy and source fabrics and garments from Europe and the Far East.

He was the driving force of the company which flourished under his control. At it's peak, Bonmarche was turning over PS200m a year and had more than 270 stores nationwide.

Through the business he managed to raise more than PS1m for the company's appointed charity, Macmillan Cancer Relief.

In 2002, the decision was made to sell the chain to the Peacocks Group. The business, which includes a store at New Street in Huddersfield, is now based at Grange Moor and employs about 2,600 people.

Gurchait, who lived at Kirkburton, is survived by his wife Daljeet, children Sukie, Nina and Amardeep and two grandchildren.

A funeral was held at the Sikh Temple at Prospect Street, Huddersfield, following by cremation at Huddersfield crematorium.

Amardeep said his father was a devoted family man and was the "backbone and driving force" of Bonmarche.

"His passion was his work," said Amardeep.

"He had a similar love for Manchester United where right until his last days he would attend the home matches at Old Trafford as a season ticket holder.

"He spent his retirement travelling with his wife and family. He treasured every moment with his grandchildren."

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 23, 2018
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