Bonmarche's share price plummets as chief exec Beth Butterwick leaves for Karen Millen, retailer issues profits warning

Catherine Neilan
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Retailers Struggle As Shoppers Await Big Discounts Before Christmas
Butterwick has been the driving force behind Bonmarche's recent growth (Source: Getty)

Bonmarche's share price plummeted more than 22 per cent this morning, as the women's retailer revealed its chief executive was stepping down amid a profit warning.

Beth Butterwick is leaving the firm after four years to take up the helm at Karen Millen. She is credited with having turned Bonmarche around from its dark days as part of Peacocks, which went into administration in 2012.

It was bought out by private equity firm Sun European Partners and successfully listed in 2013, with Butterwick overseeing a major transition that included a store portfolio upgrade, a rapidly growing online division and improved product quality.

She will remain with business until a replacement is hired.

Chairman John Coleman praised Butterwick for "her exceptional contribution over the past four years", adding that she had "imbued Bonmarche with a sense of energy and purpose".

"Today the business is well-placed for long-term success , with a robust balance sheet, strong management, and a carefully formulated growth strategy," he added.

Despite this, Bonmarche's trading update this morning will also have filled investors with dismay: the company has dropped its pre-tax profit expectations to between £10.5m and £12m on the back of "volatility in trading conditions".

It added: "Trading conditions during December, particularly since "Black Friday" on 27 November, have been very challenging, and have not normalised. The Board's view is that these trading conditions are likely to continue for the remainder of the winter season and it has therefore revised its profit expectations for the current financial year."