Over 50's fashion retailer Bonmarche has reported a 27 per cent leap in first quarter online sales following a revamp of its catalogue and a focus on fit, quality and fashion.
The Wakefield-based budget fashion chain said the figures were impressive as they were up against tough comparatives - online sales rose 39 per cent in the first quarter of 2018.
Helen Connolly, chief executive of Bonmarche, said: “I am pleased with the improvement in trading in stores compared to the second half of 2018 and in the continued momentum of our online sales, particularly against strong prior year comparatives.
“The improved sales performance during the first quarter, achieved in a clothing market which, whilst helped to some extent by more seasonal weather, remains challenging, underpins our confidence in the strategy, and the board’s expectations for the full year remain unchanged.”
Overall sales in the first quarter, covering the 13 weeks to June 30, rose 2.7 per cent and store only like-for-like sales declined by 1.2 per cent.
Bonmarche trades from 323 stores and online.
The group said it will continue to maintain a progressive dividend policy and the guideline for the required earnings cover will be lowered to a range of 2.0 to 2.5 times earnings. This is below the previous 2.5 to 3.0 times earnings.
Bonmarche said its dividends have remained comfortably covered by the group’s cashflow and the lowering of the guideline reflects confidence in its future prospects.
The firm said it is bucking the retail downturn by zeroing in on exactly what its customers want.
Ms Connolly said: "We're delighted with the improvement in online sales.
"We've got some key areas that are driving sales. Swimwear is doing particularly well online and we have increased the number of online exclusives.
"We are selling fabulous prints, swimwear with tummy control and additional leg and skirt lengths. You can get five different leg lengths online compared with two lengths in store."
Bonmarche announced a 38 per cent leap in pre-tax profits to £8m in the year to March 31.
Ms Connolly said the high street will remain tough for the foreseeable future.
"We are one of the few retailers that target our market. Our customers want great fit, quality and fashionability," she said.