Date set for Bonmarche chief’s arrival as TV campaign launched

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​Over 50s fashion chain ​Bonmarch​e​​ said its new chief executive Helen Connolly ​will take up her role on August 15.

The​ Wakefield-based group said​ current CEO, Beth Butterwick, will remain with Bonmarche​ until August 12, in order to ensure a smooth transition.​

Ms Butterwick ​is leaving the firm to head up ​upmarket retailer Karen Millen. ​Ms Connolly ​was previously senior buying director for Asda’s George clothing business​​.

Ms Butterwick, who is credited with turning around Bonmarche, has been working closely with Ms Connolly over the past few months.

The news comes as Bonmarche prepares to launch its first major TV advertising campaign this autumn after tying up with new brand ambassador, TV fashion presenter Mark Heyes, who made his name on the Lorraine Kelly show.

The tie up with Mr Heyes is part of a new initiative to attract younger shoppers in their 50s. At the moment Bonmarche’s average shopper is 65 and the group is keen to attract stylish, younger women.

Ms Butterwick said: “Mark is a well known style ambassador. He is well liked and well regarded.

“Mark is here to attract women going into their 50s. These women celebrate life. If we can attract them in their 50s we can take them on a journey with us. If we can make the collections younger and attract women in their 50s, women in their mid-60s will follow.”

Bonmarche believes Mr Heyes will help it to tap into changing demographic trends that favour the group. There are now 12.7 million women in the UK who are over 50 and they make up 40 per cent of British women. This figure will rise to rise to nearly 50 per cent by 2020​.​

​The new TV campaign​ will follow a test in 90 locations in the North.

​“That campaign got new customers in store​​,” said Ms Butterwick.

​The TV campaign will be backed by magazine and press advertising.

​Earlier this month Bonmarche reported a fall in annual profits as the unseasonable weather took its toll on sales. The firm said full year pre-tax profits dropped by more than a fifth to £9.6​m, down from 12.4​m in 2015, as it grappled with ​cold and rainy weather.