Bonmarché is adding to its online product offering to maintain momentum following a promising set of half-year results.
The value womenswear retailer has added footwear to the site, and plans to increase its range of dresses with online exclusives. It relaunched footwear in 50 stores two weeks ago.
Chief executive Helen Connolly told Drapers Bonmarché was “testing the waters” with the “small trial” of footwear, ahead of a potential rollout across its 272-strong standalone store portfolio.
In signs that Connolly’s turnaround strategy is starting to bear fruit, underlying profit before tax at the retailer soared 70.3% to £4.2m in the 26 weeks to 30 September, compared with the same period in 2016.
Total revenue grew by 5% year on year to £97.8m. Like-for-like combined store and online sales climbed 4.3%. Stores sales inched up 1.6%, while online sales grew 38.6%.
It added online ordering capabilities to its bricks-and-mortar stores during the half.
Connolly said: “We’ve made good progress in improving and modernising our product offering, which has been reflected in our online and store sales. We’re now looking to broaden our online offering on product, and [focusing on] online to maintain our momentum on growth.
“Our performance [for the first half] also reflects a better way of working in our head office and the improved agility of the business.”
It has reduced the number of head office staff by 6.5% following a restructuring last autumn.
Connolly said Bonmarché has reduced its commitment to spring 2018 orders to 50% from 80% at the same last year, resulting in more scope to react to changes in the market.
She added the market is “tough at the moment”, and as a result Bonmarché plans to “test and trial” different discounting options in the run-up to Christmas, such as promotions on partywear. It is also planning to participate in Black Friday on 24 November.
She said: “We can’t ignore how tough the market is at the moment, but we’re just [focusing on] making sure the consumer gets what they want.
“I think a lot of [retailers] are waiting for Black Friday spending, so we will have to wait and see what happens.”