Chief executive Helen Connolly explains how denim is at the heart of Bonmarché’s modernisation strategy.
Earlier this summer we set out our strategy of modernising the Bonmarché brand in order to grow sales and market share. This included a focus on broadening our appeal to more customers. We have identified a target customer profile we believe will love shopping with us, and we call her “Lisa”. We use Lisa to inform our planning and decision making.
The decision to relaunch our denim offer was made with Lisa in mind, from an end-to-end execution perspective – starting with the authenticity of the product through to the delivery of “destination denim” in store. As a result, we have seen a surge in denim sales and increased market share.
The product revamp included clearly naming the shapes of our jeans – for example, “Betty Bootcut” – and providing associated features and benefits for each. This was designed to help customers quickly familiarise themselves with the shape that’s right for them – and this approach was complemented by new online content about “picking the right jean for you”, featuring our style consultant, ITV’s Mark Heyes.
We’ve also provided lots of choice in leg lengths – there are now four to choose from.
Sara straight option
Our straight leg – “Sara” – is our best-selling shape, making up over 50% of our sales. It will be our star performer in the forthcoming seasons, but we have also seen a substantial increase in skinny jeans sales in the past year. We expect these volumes to increase further – by up to 50% – in the next 12 months, giving us our biggest percentage growth over the next few years.
We believe this is a direct result of our journey of modernisation. Before our focus on Lisa, we would not have bought the volume or depth of slim/skinny leg that we have. This move – and the sales growth in this product – demonstrates that we are evolving our customer base into one that appreciates more modern shapes, fits, fabrics and washes, and colours. We have had fantastic sales from grey denim and will increase the mix, but the bulk of the sales are still from dark denim.
Our customer looks for clarity and ease in her purchases. We have deliberately focused on easily communicating the fit, shape, quality and comfort of each denim product. This approach, combined with great service and value for money, has been the key to driving our sales performance in this area.