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Contemporary fashion helps sales soar at Bonmarché

Value retailer Bonmarché has credited a “good improvement” in the sales of its contemporary fashion collection for rising sales and profits in the 26 weeks to September 27.

The retailer, which won the title of Drapers Retail Business of the Year (over £125m turnover) 2014 last month, saw sales of its contemporary collection increase from 50% of total sales to 72% as shoppers embraced a more trend-led offer.

Beth Butterwick, chief executive of Bonmarché, told Drapers: “Product drives consumer spend. We have seen an improvement in our contemporary look; our mature customers are really embracing a more trend-focused offer. Fit and quality are important for our customer and they are more aware of modern product and looks now.”

Bonmarché’s sales increased by 11.8% to £91.1m in the first half, while profits before tax were up 68.1% to £6.4m. Store like-for-like sales increased by 7.8%.

Profit before tax margin increased from 4.7% to 7%. Online sales made up 7.2% of penetration total sales for the six months, up from 5.3% in 2013.

Bonmarché has reduced its total number of clothing options by 20% to 2,500 pieces, which Butterwick said helped shoppers to navigate the collection.  

The retailer also said it will evolve its buying strategy for autumn 2015 following the Indian summer this year. The September to November period will contain a greater number of transitional pieces in order to adapt to the changing weather patterns.

Bonmarché has stretched its price architecture with average exit prices increasing from £26.24 in 2013 to £28.96. Butterwick said there is opportunity to stretch this further next year on dresses and coats in particular, but the retailer will remain true to is “value roots”.

“We will always be a value retailer and we won’t lose the heart of the brand,” she added.

The number of suppliers used by the retailer has been reduced from 119 to 92 during the last 12 months, allowing a “more collaborative” relationship, “improved product handwriting and greater flexibility”.

In August Bonmarché re-launched the Ann Harvey brand in 23 stores and online. Ann Harvey generated sales of £300,000 in the half.

The retailer also announced a trial of menswear in 50 stores in October. Butterwick said there has been a “great reaction” so far, but the main womenswear line will remain the main focus for business.


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