Bonmarché fails to return to growth after profit warning

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Bonmarché has reported a decline in both sales and profits amid its half-year results, becoming the latest retailer to blame a “challenging market” for subdued trading.

In the 26 weeks to September 29, the fashion retailer saw combined like-for-like sales dip one per cent to £97.9 million over its half year.

Although in-store like-for-like sales dropped by four per cent, this was largely offset by a 28.9 per cent growth in online sales, which now account for 12 per cent of total sales.

It added that despite the decline almost all of its stores remain profitable.

Underlying pre-tax profits dived 21 per cent to £3.3 million, while gross margins dropped from 57.8 per cent to 57.2 per cent as currency conditions offset improvements made through “buying and stock management”.

Bonmarché, which issued a profit warning in September, added that its forecasts for the full year remained unchanged should sales over the vital Christmas period meet expectations.

“Whilst store trading has been impacted by the general weaker consumer sentiment and footfall seen across the market, we have continued to improve our proposition, particularly our digital capabilities and with a broader, modernised product offer, which is reflected in our strong online performance,” chief executive Helen Connolly said.

“We remain focused on exploiting the opportunity afforded by the increasing demand for online shopping, and are encouraged by customers’ responses to new ranges such as denim, leisurewear and resortwear.

“Despite the challenging market, the health and fundamentals of the business remain strong and the board remains confident in the strategy and in Bonmarché’s long-term prospects.”

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