Bonmarche sees annual profits surge

Value womenswear retailer Bonmarche has rung up a surge in annual profits after boosting online sales and cutting costs to weather tough high street trading.

Helen Connolly of Bonmarche

The group reported a 38.1% rise in bottom line pre-tax profits to £8 million for the year to March 31, while profits were 27% higher on an underlying basis.

It said a 34.5% jump in online sales helped to offset “disappointing” high street sales, with like-for-like store sales down 4.5%.

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The group said trading since the year-end had also been stronger so far.

The chain saw shares plunge at the start of the year after revealing a collapse in Christmas trading.

But in its annual results, it blamed “external factors” for a particularly poor high street performance in October, December and March, with the Beast from the East thought to have affected its final quarter in particular.

Helen Connolly, chief executive of Bonmarche, said: “We have made good progress in all areas, particularly online, where we have seen strong growth whilst also making improvements through a number of other self-help initiatives including the product proposition, the loyalty scheme and developing a more agile supply base.

“Whilst we expect the market to remain difficult, trading since the beginning of the new financial year has been stronger than during the second half of full-year 2017-18.”

Bonmarche - which was founded in 1982 - has been revamping its online offering after poor website sales in 2016-17, making it more customer-friendly and improving its marketing tactics.

The group also overhauled its supplier base over the past year and cut costs where possible to counter difficult retail conditions and a hit from the weak pound, which pushed up buying costs.