Bonmarché's turnaround yields doubled profits and increased sales against gloomy retail background

Alys Key
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Sales have risen both in stores and online (Source: Bonmarché)

Shares in womenswear retailer Bonmarché closed up almost eight per cent today after the group posted solid growth for the first half.

The figures

Revenue climbed five per cent to £97.8m, with like-for-like sales growth of 4.3 per cent.

The growth was largely driven by a 36.8 per cent jump in online sales, but same-store sales were also up 1.6 per cent.

Pre-tax profit has more than doubled since the same time last year, hitting £4.2m.

Shares climbed more than 10 per cent, hitting a high of 101.5p before settling at 96p at the close, an increase of 7.9 per cent.

Why it's interesting

Bonmarché's solid progress has marked it out as a surprise success story in a difficult environment.

Kate Calvert, an analyst at Investec, commented: "Against a difficult market backdrop, a real step forward seems to have been made in product and cost flexibility helped by recent systems investment."

Like other retailers, the group has had to contend with foreign exchange pressure on margins, but this was partly offset by a higher number of sales at full price rather than with a discount.

Read more: Retailers braced for first Christmas sales fall for five years

What Bonmarché said

Chief executive Helen Connolly said:

"I am satisfied with the progress made during the first half of the financial year. I have been encouraged by the way the teams have worked cross functionally to deliver an improved product offer and a better experience for our customers, whether in store or online. We are only at the beginning of the journey in some areas of our strategy and there is a strong plan to support future growth."

"I do not expect the clothing market to become any less challenging in the near future, and therefore remain focussed on continuing to grow by profitably gaining market share."

Read more: Investors back Bonmarche as it ploughs on with turnaround effort

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