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Bonmarché trials menswear in 50 stores

Value retailer Bonmarché is trialling a 50-piece menswear collection in 50 of its 276 stores, online and in a catalogue due to launch next week.

The offer comprises tops, accessories and underwear in sizes small to XXL, ranging from £3 for a handkerchief set to £25 for knitwear. It includes pyjama sets, but trousers are not part of the initial line as Bonmarché is focusing on items with simpler size and fit requirements. The collection will have a dedicated department in the stores.

Chief executive Beth Butterwick told Drapers Bonmarché had identified a gap in the market for stylish clothing aimed at men over 50, despite competition from supermarket clothing brands, high street retailers such as Marks & Spencer and BHS, and to a lesser extent online retailers.

“When we consulted our consumer focus groups about ways to offer a more comprehensive range, introducing menswear was something that came out of those discussions,” she explained.

“We have a very loyal customer base of women over 50 who look for stylish, fit-for-purpose clothing at good prices. When we looked at what the high street [produces for men in line with] these values, we found there wasn’t that much on offer.

“We understand it will mainly be women purchasing the menswear, but we know many men shop in our stores with their partners too.”

She also emphasised it was not a full launch: “The trial period is robust and will allow us to eliminate variables caused by region or seasonality. We will look to learn from this and correct the range through the process with a view to expanding the offer in future, if successful.”

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