“Difficult” first quarter for Bonmarché

British fashion retailer Bonmarché saw its shares fail after market closed Friday as the company recognized that “difficult” trading conditions on the High Street hit sales in the first quarter. The stock lost 5 percent in London.

The company, which sells clothes for women aged over 50, said sales in stores opened for more than a year fell 4.7 percent in the 13 weeks to the end of March compared to the same period last year.

On a positive note, Bonmarché said sales for the year ended 28 March had increased by 8.7 percent, with like-for-like takings up by 6 per cent, including online sales. But the firm described the period as a “year of contrasts”.

A year of “two halves” for Bonmarché

Thus, a strong performance in the first half was supported by good summer weather, it said, while the mild autumn created “more difficult trading conditions” in the second half. Also, strong online sales, which rose 14.5 percent during the same period, helped offset the weaker figures at the brick-and-mortar stores, with total group sales 0.9 percent higher in the quarter. That, however, compared with last year’s growth of 15.7 per cent during the same period, as published ‘The Scotman’.

Despite the difficulties, chief executive Beth Butterwick, who acknowledges that the last has been a “year of contrasts”, expects to report solid growth thanks to a tight focus on costs.

“A strong performance in the first half was supported by good summer weather, however the mild autumn created more difficult trading conditions in the second half of the year.” However, Butterwick highlighted that “Against this backdrop, we expect to report solid profit growth.”

As publishes ‘This is Money’, Butterwick is “also pleased that through the targeted use of promotions and discounts, the terminal stock holding at the end of the year was almost as low as it was last year, despite the increase in stores.”

The stock dived 5 percent on the London Stock Market, highly I contrast with the 30 percent advance noted by the company last year. Shares at Bonmarché have fallen since January, recalls Reuters.


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