Belfast Telegraph

Bonmarche’s sales chilled by Beast from the East

The clothing chain’s board said it was still on track to deliver a rise in profits despite poor sales.

Value womenswear retailer Bonmarche suffered a drop in sales in the first three months of the year, which analysts pinned on the Beast from the East.

Sales fell by 11.1% on a like-for-like basis in the three months to the end of March, with online sales up by 31.2%.

For the financial year, like-for-like sales at the fashion retailer were down 4.5%.

Bonmarche said that, despite poor sales, profit before tax would be in line with the board’s expectations. Analysts are forecasting profit to come in at £7.8 million, a rise of 28% on the £6.1 million delivered in 2017.

Our focus will be on continuing to improve our proposition to customers Bonmarche chief executive Helen Connolly

Helen Connolly, chief executive of Bonmarche, said: “As anticipated, trading conditions in the final quarter of our financial year remained challenging and, against this backdrop, I am pleased that we have delivered an increase in the profit before tax compared to last year.

“Whilst we expect the market to remain difficult, our focus will be on continuing to improve our proposition to customers through a number of self-help initiatives, which we expect to drive further progress for the business during the new financial year.”

Mark Photiades, analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, said Bonmarche had performed well given the severe weather which hit retailers during the first quarter, and the general gloom surrounding the sector.

“We understand that trade was steady in January and February before the adverse weather impacted trade in March,” he said.

“We are particularly pleased to see continued strong online growth, especially in light of the strong comparatives in the quarter.

“The target demographic remains set to grow in the years ahead and the new chief executive is making good progress on her turnaround strategy.”

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