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Online overhaul boosts Bonmarché’s bottom line

Chief executive Helen Connolly has credited a revamp of Bonmarché’s online offer, as well as reduced levels of discounting and a more agile supply base for the business’s turnaround.

Pre-tax profits at the value womenswear retailer jumped 38.1% to £8m in the year to 31 March. Online sales rose by 34.5% and now make up 9.5% of total sales.

In-store sales fell by 4.5% and total revenue for the period was slightly down, at £186m compared with £190.1m for the full year 2017.

Connolly told Drapers educating staff on the importance of online was key to the turnaround: “Our store colleagues did not have online at the forefront of their minds, but [now] having a multichannel proposition means that we are offering more online exclusives, a wider variety of choice and options for different leg lengths, dress lengths, and ability to order in store to have products delivered either to home next day or to store for free.”

She added that integrating the operations of online, marketing and merchandising eliminated barriers within the business and helped streamline the offer, especially online.

“We have strengthened our online team and really looked at how they operate. They operate in a much more agile manner, brining online and marketing under one umbrella makes perfect sense.”

Improving product and speed to market are also key pillars in Bonmarché’s turnaround plan, which was launched in June 2017 following a run of poor results.

Connolly said these changes are now starting to take hold: “We really focused on the modernisation of the brand, the level of fashionability, fit, and our customer profiles. We reduced the level of discounting and also cut the overall level of marked-down [items], through the loyalty scheme.

“Having a much more flexible and agile supply base was key.”




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