Belfast Telegraph

Bonmarche shares tumble following dire trading update

The women’s discount retailer suffered a 9.7% slump in store like-for-like sales, with total sales crashing 5.5%.

Shares in Bonmarche have plummeted after the women’s discount retailer reported a collapse in Christmas sales.

A trading update covering the 13 weeks ending December 30 revealed that the retailer suffered a 9.7% slump in store like-for-like sales, with total sales crashing 5.5%.

Chief executive Helen Connolly said: “The clothing market became more challenging during this quarter, especially on the high street; consequently our store like-for-like was disappointing.”

Shares dropped 21% to 99p following the announcement.

Bonmarche warned that there “remains uncertainty” around how trading conditions will evolve this year, adding that the weather represents the most significant uncertainty due to its “effect on consumer shopping behaviour”.

Retailers have also been hammered by spiralling costs linked to the Brexit-hit pound and a collapse in consumer confidence, leading several high street chains to warn over profits in January.

The firm was more upbeat about its online performance, where sales rose 28.5% in the period.

Bonmarche also said that during “difficult market conditions” in the third quarter, it adjusted its stock purchasing plans and reduced discounting, resulting in a “slight improvement” in profit margins.

Despite the dire trading update, the firm did not revise down its full-year profit expectations.

It added: “Looking further ahead, whilst we expect the market to remain difficult, we have a number of self-help initiatives in progress or planned for 2019 which are expected to deliver profitable like-for-like sales growth in stores, and the continuation of strong sales growth online.”

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