It has been a year of two halves for value womenswear retailer Bonmarché.
In June, it announced a 38.1% leap in pre-tax profit to £8m for the year to 31 March, despite a 2.2% dip in total revenue to £186m.
The rise was attributed to a tight control of gross margin and costs, as well as an increase in online sales, which rose by 34.5%. However, the next six months proved challenging: underlying profit before tax fell 21% year on year to £3.3m in the 26 weeks to 29 September.
The good news is that online sales were up by 28.9% in the half-year, and now account for 12% of total sales, up from 9% last year.
Helen Connolly says Bonmarché is driving online growth by extending size options and lengths on the website, and introducing third-party brands. In stores, it has introduced a new replenishment system driven by artificial intelligence.
Bonmarché is also modernising its estate by investing in window displays, digital screens, and new fixtures and fittings.