Bonmarché strong online but stores still challenged
The women’s value-priced clothing market has suffered as much as other sectors in recent periods in the UK, so it was interesting to read Bonmarché’s latest trading update to see whether there’s any light at the end of the tunnel.
Well, yes there is some hope. But it’s not time to bring out the bunting just yet. In the 13 weeks to June 30 (Q1), the retailer said sales grew by 2.7% but store-only like-for-like (LFL) sales dropped by 1.2%. However, much better news was the fact that online sales grew 27.3%.
The combined effect of the online boom and the LFL drop mean that total LFL sales were up 1.5%.
Overall, it was a weaker performance than a year earlier when online sales had soared 39%, although growth of over 27% for the more mature e-business isn’t exactly anything to fret about. But a year ago, LFL store sales had risen 4.2% so the latest dip is worrying, although after a very tough second half of the previous financial year (FY18), the figures could be seen as signs of progress.
What did CEO Helen Connolly have to say about the figures? She seems to see progress in the numbers and was cautiously upbeat. “I am pleased with the improvement in trading in stores compared to the second half of FY18 and in the continued momentum of our online sales, particularly against strong prior year comparatives,” she said.
“The improved sales performance, achieved in a clothing market which, while 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.”
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